Family members of the late U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn are suing his widow, Jennifer Carnahan, to recoup medical expenses related to treatments he received in Arizona before his death.
Two lawsuits filed in district court Monday by Hagedorn's mother, stepfather and sister allege they helped pay for cancer treatments he received at Envita Medical Centers after he was told he had exhausted his options at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
If those treatments weren't successful, Carnahan made a "clear and definite promise" to use the inheritance she was to receive after his death to reimburse his family members, according to both lawsuits.
Carnahan, who is running to replace her husband in Congress, said in a statement that her husband's estate is required to go through the probate process in the courts to "determine the disposition of assets in accordance with Minnesota law."
"There is nothing further we are allowed to do at this time," she added. "I wish Jim's family well and know this time has been very difficult for all of us."
Hagedorn died after a long battle with kidney cancer on Feb. 17. The lawsuits say he was told in January that there were no more treatments available for him at Mayo Clinic in his congressional district, so he sought additional treatments at the facility in Scottsdale.
According to the lawsuits, his health insurance as a member of Congress didn't cover the total cost of the treatments, so he asked family members to help out. One lawsuit filed by his mother, Kathleen Kreklau, and stepfather said they took out a loan on the equity of their home for $25,000, using more than $10,000 to help cover medical costs. The remaining funds weren't used and were reimbursed to them after his death.
In a separate complaint, Hagedorn's sister Tricia Lucas alleges she charged $10,000 on a credit card to help cover the costs of his treatment and was promised repayment by Carnahan. Both lawsuits allege Carnahan was to receive a $174,000 death benefit from the federal government after Hagedorn died, as well as $174,000 from his life insurance policy.
Carnahan said she paid more than $50,000 of her own money over the course of his illness to care for him.
"It was worth every penny to give my husband a fighting chance. It should be a private matter and it makes me sad to see that it has become a political matter," she said.
Carnahan is one of 10 Republicans who have filed to run in a May 24 special primary election to serve out the remainder of Hagedorn's term, saying she wants to continue her late husband's legacy in Congress.
Hagedorn's family has largely stayed out of the limelight since his death, but recent federal campaign finance records showed a $1,000 donation from Heidi Hagedorn Katz, Hagedorn's sister, to congressional candidate and state Rep. Jeremy Munson.
The primary winners in each party will go on to an Aug. 9 special election.
Carnahan is summoned to appear virtually in conciliation court on July 25.
Staff writer Hunter Woodall contributed to this report.