Family of late Rep. Jim Hagedorn sues his widow for medical bills
Family members of the late U.S. Representative Jim Hagedorn are suing his widow, Jennifer Carnahan, to recover medical expenses related to treatment he received in Arizona prior to his death.
Two lawsuits filed in district court on Monday by Hagedorn’s mother, stepfather and sister allege they helped pay for cancer treatments he received at Envita Medical Centers after learning he had exhausted his options at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
If those treatments were unsuccessful, Carnahan made a “clear and final promise” to use the inheritance she was to receive after her death to repay her family members, according to the two lawsuits.
Carnahan, who is running to replace her husband in Congress, said in a statement that her husband’s estate must go through the probate process in court to “determine the disposition of assets in accordance with Minnesota law.”
“There is nothing else we are allowed to do at this time,” she added. “I wish Jim’s family well and I know this has been a very difficult time for all of us.”
Hagedorn died after a long battle with kidney cancer on February 17. The lawsuits say he was told in January that there were no more treatments available for him at the Mayo Clinic in his congressional district, so he sought additional treatment at the Scottsdale facility.
According to the lawsuits, his health insurance as a congressman did not cover the full cost of the treatments, so he asked his family members to help him. A lawsuit filed by his mother, Kathleen Kreklau, and stepfather said they took out a loan against the equity in their home for $25,000, using more than $10,000 to help cover costs medical. The remaining funds were not used and were refunded to them after his death.
In a separate complaint, Hagedorn’s sister, Tricia Lucas, alleges she charged $10,000 to a credit card to help cover the cost of her treatment and was promised reimbursement by Carnahan. Both lawsuits allege Carnahan was to receive a $174,000 death benefit from the United States government following Hagedorn’s death, as well as $174,000 from his life insurance policy.
“Grief affects everyone differently,” Carnahan said in her statement. “Managing the affairs of my husband’s estate should be a private matter. It’s a shame that a very simple process has been turned into a political stunt.”
Carnahan is one of 10 Republicans who have run to run in the May 24 special primaries to serve out the rest of Hagedorn’s term, saying she wants to continue her late husband’s legacy in Congress.
Hagedorn’s family has remained largely out of the spotlight since his death, but recent federal campaign finance records showed a $1,000 donation from Heidi Hagedorn Katz, Hagedorn’s sister, to the congressional candidate and State Representative Jeremy Munson.
The main winners from each party will participate in a special election on August 9.
Carnahan is summoned to appear virtually before the Conciliation Tribunal on July 25.
Writer Hunter Woodall contributed to this report.