CHARLESTON – A settlement has been approved in a lawsuit against Prestera Center for Mental Health Services involving a woman who claimed Prestera was responsible for her son’s death.

On June 11, Stephanie Cook signed an Affidavit and Consent to Settlement and Distribution form and agreed to settle the case for a lump sum of $160,000.

A final order approving settlement of all claims was filed on June 8 and ordered Cook to: Satisfy the existing Medicare subrogation claim for the medical services it provided to Jason Scott Hensley; reimburse herself the amount of $5,759.88 for funeral and burial expenses; pay her attorneys the sum of $64,000 for attorneys fees and expenses; and use the remainder of the settlement to fund a structured annuity for the benefit of Brandon Lee Hensley, Jason Hensley’s son, payable to him in five annual installments beginning on the 21st birthday.

On Jan. 22, 2009, Jason Hensley died as a result of violent acts directed against him by Russell Allen Miller while living in Prestera housing, according to a complaint filed Jan. 18, 2011, in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Cook claimed Prestera knew or should have known of Miller’s propensity for violence and the need for supervision.

Knowing his propensity for violence and need for supervision, Prestera was negligent for failing to monitor and adequately supervise Miller’s daily activities, including permitting the cohabitation with Jason Hensley, according to the suit.

Cook was represented by Charles L. Phalen Jr. and Gerald R. Lacy of Lacy Law Offices. The case was assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Phalen is currently serving at least a one-year suspension from the practice of law.

According to the statement of charges filed against him, Phalen neglected the cases of Rodney W. Hudson, Brandon L. Whaples, Bobby B. Breeden, Donna R. Coon, Fawney S. Harshbarger, Donna L. Stollings, Karen A. Taylor, Jason S. Falbo and Cynthia L. White. Specifically, the statement accused Phalen of doing little, if any, work in their cases, mostly divorces, after they paid him a retainer.

Also, the statement accused him of failing to communicate with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the arm of the Court that investigates attorney misconduct. In addition to not responding to the respective complaints until served with a subpoena, the statement said Phalen failed to comply with ODC’s request to provide a copy of billing statements of the work he performed.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-92

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