Healthcare facility seeks $21,000 from deceased gay man’s partner

St. Monica Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare is seeking about $21,000 from an indigent gay man to help pay for his late partner’s hospice care prior to his death in 2018.

According to court documents, Jerry Perisho of Northern Liberties died on Oct. 19, 2018, after having received 13 months of hospice care at St. Monica, located in South Philadelphia.

Perisho’s partner, Robert Kirksey, 77, signed an agreement with St. Monica to turn over all of Perisho’s federal Social Security payments that were required to go to St. Monica, according to court documents.

There’s a dispute over whether all of these payments have been turned over to St. Monica. 

The case recently transferred from Philadelphia Common Pleas Court to the Philadelphia Arbitration Center, where a hearing was scheduled for Sept. 29.

Medicare paid the facility $102,000. The amount sought by St. Monica at press time is $21,023.07, which includes interest and legal fees. Kirksey is being asked to pay St. Monica’s attorneys $170 an hour for the time they’ve spent on the case, according to court papers.

Perisho received care at St. Monica from September 2017 until October 2018. He lived with Kirksey for about 30 years prior to receiving services at St. Monica. The two men never married, said Kirksey’s attorney, Matthew C. Care.

St. Monica filed suit in October 2019 and requested summary judgment in its favor in January 2021.  Care filed an opposition brief in February 2021. St. Monica’s summary-judgment request was denied by Common Pleas Judge Glynnis D. Hill in April 2021. 

According to court papers, Kirksey is barely able to pay his bills and cannot afford to provide the funds sought by St. Monica. “He’s being represented pro-bono because he cannot afford to pay for an attorney,” Care told PGN.

St. Monica hasn’t presented any evidence that Kirksey wrongfully withheld funds from the facility. Additionally, Kirksey signed two contracts with St. Monica under duress and without witnesses. Thus, the contracts aren’t legally enforceable, Care added.

“Mr. Kirksey has no money to satisfy the request of St. Monica,” Care continued. “He does have a house that’s in disrepair. Basically a community of gay men fixed the house in the spring to make it as habitable as possible. That’s his only meaningful possession, that he lived in with his partner for 30 years. Jerry died without a penny. The estate had no assets.”

Kirksey actually transferred to St. Monica an additional $800 in Social Security payments that weren’t required to be turned over to St. Monica, Care asserted. 

An attorney for St. Monica didn’t reply to messages seeking comment.

Defense papers do not accuse St. Monica of being anti-LGBT, but allege that the facility is being insensitive to the circumstances of a grieving, indigent gay man.

The allegations made by St. Monica against Kirksey include breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraudulent transfer of debt, according to court papers. 

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Tim Cwiek has been writing for PGN since the 1970s. He holds a bachelor's degree in history from West Chester State University. In 2013, he received a Sigma Delta Chi Investigative Reporting Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his reporting on the Nizah Morris case. Cwiek was the first reporter for an LGBT media outlet to win an award from that national organization. He's also received awards from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, the National Newspaper Association, the Keystone Press and the Pennsylvania Press Club.