San Diego


A federal appeals court meeting in San Diego took under submission Monday the appeal of quadriplegic Kip Hayes’ request for full insurance benefits for home nursing care.

Hayes, 25, whose injury in a high school football game in 1976 paralyzed him from the neck down, is appealing the $10,000 limit on home nursing care that his insurance policy provides.

The La Mesa resident did not appear before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard his case and many others in the downtown federal courthouse. The three-judge panel headed by James Browning gave no indication when it would issue a ruling.


If his appeal is denied, Hayes faces the prospect of entering a hospital, which would be paid by the insurance company. He must have round-the-clock nursing care.

His attorney, Harvey Levine, said in court that the hospital costs would be two or three times the cost of home nursing care.

Hayes is insured through his father’s policy from the U.S. Postal Service. Levine said the approximately 65,000 employees who have the policy were not made aware of the $10,000 limit on nursing care when they bought the policy.

The attorney representing the National League of Postmasters said the $10,000 limit came from a directive from Congress in 1981 to cut costs.

The appeal stems from the January ruling by U.S. District Judge Leland Nielsen that the National League of Postmasters acted within the law by limiting the nursing care benefits.

Hayes received a settlement several years ago from the company that manufactured the football helmet he wore during the game in which he was injured, but it is not enough to meet the cost of 24-hour nursing care.