Cassia County commissioners have approved payment of the first $10,000 of almost $500,000 in hospital bills run up by Javier Tellez Juarez after he lost both arms and a leg in a December farm accident.
The panel that oversees Idaho's catastrophic health-care fund will meet June 18 to decide whether to pay the rest."County approval is the key element in the process. It gets the ball rolling," said Larry Goins, a lawyer for the University of Utah Hospital where Tellez was treated.
"In our opinion the catastrophic health-care fund has no power to override the decision and deny the claim," Goins said. "I don't expect any more problems."
Tellez was caught in a tractor-powered post-hole digger last Dec. 13 while working on a Malta-area farm owned by Harold and Charlotte Tracy. He lost both arms at the shoulders and his left leg below the knee.
Tellez, 24, was a patient at the Salt Lake hospital for about three months and has since been in outpatient therapy, Goins said.
He had no money or insurance to help with the medical bills and was not covered by worker's compensation insurance. Goins said the hospital is close to recouping its money without going to court, but a legal battle is brewing between Tellez's lawyers, the manufacturer of the post-hole digger and possibly Tracy Farms.
Ken Pedersen, a Twin Falls attorney who specializes in product liability, is trying to find a legal avenue that will provide Tellez and his family with some money to live on.
On Monday, Pedersen said a lawsuit against Tracy Farms has not yet been ruled out. A product liability lawsuit naming the Danuser Machine Co. of Fulton, Mo., the post-hole digger manufacturer, was dismissed in 5th District Court last week and moved to federal court in Boise.