HUNTINGTON – A Huntington woman is suing Family Dollar Stores of WV Inc. after she claims it misapplied payments under COBRA.

Conexis Benefits Administrators LP and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina were also named as defendants in the suit.

On Sept. 24, 2012, Jill C. Barber was performing her work duties when she was bitten by a brown recluse spider and on Sept. 28, 2012, she filed a worker's compensation claim as a result of medical treatment and injuries she received because of the spider bite, according to a complaint initially filed Aug. 28 in Cabell Circuit Court and removed to federal court on Jan. 21.

Barber claims her workers' compensation claim was deemed to be compensable and the defendants' third-party administrator for workers' compensation claims authorized the periodic payments of both indemnity and medical benefit payments.

During the course of her workers' compensation claim against Family Dollar, another third-party administrator denied a large number of medical bill claims by various medical providers who provided treatment for the work-related injury and Barber was forced to use her employee benefit health insurance to cover a significant number of doctor and hospital visits or admissions; and related medication and tests, according to the suit.

Barber claims on July 12, she was released to return to work and was advised in writing by a medical doctor that she was fully capable of performing all work duties required without limitation. The following day, she submitted a physician-certified fitness for duty form to Family Dollar.

On July 28, Barber entered into an agreement with Family Dollar and settled the workers' compensation claim, according to the suit.

Barber claims at no time from September 2012 until July, did Family Dollar provide notice that her employment had been terminated for any reason. However, Conexis notified her in January 2014 of her termination from employment and the cancellation of her medical insurance with Blue Cross.

Family Dollar never notified Barber that her eligibility for the Blue Cross coverage had expired or that the only way she could continue receiving the benefits was by electing COBRA rights, according to the suit.

Barber claims when she contacted Family Dollar, she was told it was a mistake and agreed for her to begin making payments from that time forward for not notifying her of her COBRA rights.

As a result of the defendants' failures, she has received numerous unpaid bills from medical providers for medical treatment she had received since January that now exceeds $30,000.

Barber claims she has attempted on numerous occasions to discuss the issue with Family Dollar and has been given no explanation for the mistake it made in applying for the payments she made, though it has been admitted that payments were received for her during the months beginning January 2014.

As a direct and proximate result, Barber has suffered extensive aggravation, inconvenience and annoyance for having to deal on a daily or weekly basis with numerous telephone calls with her insurer, medical providers and the defendants while trying to work out and resolve the issues, according to the suit.

Barber is seeking compensatory damages. She is being represented by James D. McQueen Jr. and Ralph J. Hagy of McQueen Davis PLLC.

The case is assigned to District Judge Robert C. Chambers.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 3:15-cv-00859

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