Healthcare facility awarded $16,000 from deceased gay man’s partner

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Attorneys for an indigent gay man have vowed to appeal a 2-1 arbitration verdict, ordering him to pay about $16,000 to St. Monica Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare for his late partner’s long-term care prior to his death in 2018.

On Sept. 29, a panel of three arbitrators ordered Robert Kirksey to pay $16,697.21 to St. Monica for long-term care the facility provided to his late partner, Jerry Perisho.

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

Kirksey, 77, allegedly 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 the required payments have been turned over to St. Monica. 

The three arbitrators are Susan Foehl, Michael-John Goodnow and Gerry Lipski. They didn’t return messages seeking comment. Goodnow ruled in favor of Kirksey. The arbitrators didn’t issue opinions explaining their rulings.

The hearing lasted two hours and 20 minutes. Kirksey testified and a representative of St. Monica testified.

Upon its conclusion, the arbitrators awarded St. Monica a total of $16,697.21, which allegedly is the balance of Perisho’s account with St. Monica, according to court documents.

Matthew C. Care, a pro-bono attorney for Kirksey, vowed to appeal the judgment in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. He said Kirksey simply doesn’t have the funds to satisfy the judgment. 

“Bob only possesses his house as an asset, and he has no choice but to appeal due to the unfortunate circumstances and St. Monica’s refusal to recognize his plight. However, I am glad the award to St. Monica was less than half of what they requested,” Care said, in an email.

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

The total amount sought by St. Monica is $35,391.19, which includes legal fees and interest. St. Monica is asking Kirksey to pay their attorneys $170 an hour for time spent on the case. Medicare paid the facility $102,000. Kirksey turned over about $4,500 of Perisho’s Social Security payments to St. Monica, according to court documents.

The arbitrators ruled that Kirksey must pay the balance on Perisho’s account, but  not any legal fees or interest.

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, Care said.

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. 

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 argued.

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. 

The arbitrators ruled against St. Monica on most of their allegations against Kirksey but ruled in favor of St. Monica on the unjust-enrichment allegation, according to court papers.

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