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Russell v. Russell

December 18, 1998

BOBBY MAX RUSSELL, JR. APPELLANT
v.
CYNTHIA V. RUSSELL APPELLEES



Before Bridges, C.j., Payne, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Southwick, J.

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 12/31/1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. WILLIAM H. MYERS

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - DOMESTIC RELATIONS

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: MOTION FOR MODIFICATION GRANTED; ARREARAGE OF MEDICAL EXPENSES ASSESSED AT $1998.13; ALIMONY ARREARAGE ASSESSED AT $150; APPELLANT ORDERED TO PAY $1000 ATTORNEYS FEES

DISPOSITION: IN PART: AFFIRMED, REVERSED AND RENDERED, REVERSED AND REMANDED-12/18/98

¶1. Appellant, Bobby Max Russell, appeals from a judgment of the Jackson County Chancery Court awarding the appellee, Cynthia V. Russell, past-due medical expenses for their three children, unpaid alimony, and attorneys fees. Though we affirm most of the chancellor's findings and Conclusions, we reverse as to one past-due bill and also reverse for findings about attorneys fees.

FACTS

¶2. Bobby Max and Cynthia Russell were divorced on April 16, 1992. Ms. Russell was granted primary custody of their three children, and Mr. Russell was ordered to pay all medical expenses incurred by his former wife and the children. He was also ordered to pay $250 per month in alimony for five years. At the time of the divorce, Mr. Russell was employed by the Mississippi Air National Guard as a federal civil service employee. His medical coverage was provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield. In August of 1994, a judgment was entered directing Ms. Russell "to make use of [Mr. Russell's] military health care benefits for the children when they are reasonably available."

¶3. Mr. Russell's status changed from civil service to active military in November of 1996. Consequently, his medical coverage changed as well. He and his dependents became entitled to receive free medical treatment at Keesler Air Force Base. Any necessary treatment for Mr. Russell and his dependents that could not be obtained at Keesler would be covered under health care insurance called Tri Care Prime. It is designed for members who live near active duty bases. Though the evidence was not detailed, there was testimony that in order to receive coverage under the Tri Care policy, medical attention had to be sought at Keesler first. If Keesler is unable to provide the necessary treatment, patient is referred to other physicians who are able to provide the needed care. If a covered member seeks medical attention from an outside physician without first attempting to be treated at Keesler, Tri Care's coverage is significantly less.

¶4. On March 6, 1997, Ms. Russell filed a complaint seeking payment for past-due medical expenses and $150 in unpaid alimony. She also sought an award of attorney's fees. Mr. Russell responded that she had incurred unnecessary medical expenses by failing to seek care through Keesler before visiting outside physicians. Following a hearing held November 10, 1997, the chancellor awarded $1,998.13, which included $363.13 reimbursement for prescription medication, $1,185 due physicians directly, and $450 to reimburse Ms. Russell for previous payments to physicians. Ms. Russell was also awarded $150 in unpaid alimony and $1,000 in attorney's fees.

ΒΆ5. It is this judgment from which Mr. ...


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