In the world of legal battles and advocacy, heroes often emerge from unexpected places. Such is the case with the recent recipients of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice’s (NCAJ) prestigious Kellie Crabtree Award, presented by Doug Maynard and Jay Trehy. This year, the award shines a spotlight on the Greene family - Richard and Andrea, along with their son, Josiah - and their attorney Paige Pahlke.
Behind the Kellie Crabtree Award: The Client's Story in the BCBS v. N.C. Department of Insurance Legal Battle
The Kellie Crabtree Award recognizes exceptional contributions to justice and advocacy, and this year's award recipients have truly exemplified the spirit of this honor. Their story is intertwined with a significant legal battle - the case of Blue Cross Blue Shield v. N.C. Department of Insurance, et al., in which the NCAJ fought vigorously to protect the rights of North Carolinians.
At the heart of this legal dispute was BCBS's attempt to insert a right of reimbursement into all individual and group health insurance policies in North Carolina. This raised concerns about the potential infringement of individuals' rights, especially those with pending personal injury claims, small businesses, and BCBS health insurance members with policies with a reimbursement clause.
The Greenes: Dedicated Defenders of North Carolina Citizens' Rights in the BCBS Case
Enter the Greenes, whose involvement in this case proved to be a game-changer. Paige Pahlke, the dedicated attorney who represented them, recommended the Greenes to NCAJ. The Greenes, upon hearing about the potential implications of BCBS's actions, didn't hesitate to step up to the plate.
Doug Maynard, one of the leaders of the NCAJ’s litigation efforts, emphasized the pivotal role played by the Greenes: "They knew this was wrong. It was a huge ask, though, to ask somebody to get involved as a party where they have an interest but not a tremendous interest [when compared to BCBS’s interest]... They said, 'We can't let BCBS do this to the citizens of North Carolina if we can help it.'"
Defeating BCBS: Protecting People's Rights in North Carolina
Rather than consent to the intervention of the Greenes and the NCAJ so that all sides could be heard on this issue, BCBS objected. BCBS pulled out all stops trying to prevent or limit both the Greenes and the NCAJ involvement in the case. Even though the judge allowed both to intervene, BCBS on several occasions tried to get the Greenes dismissed and the NCAJ barred from attending depositions. Finally, after nearly year and a half of hard-fought litigation, the judge issued a Proposed for Decision soundly rejecting all of BCBS’s arguments.
Subsequently BCBS voluntarily dismissed the case. The dismissal earlier this year was a significant victory for the citizens of North Carolina, and it made a real difference that wouldn't have been possible without the Greenes' willingness to stand up for justice. Maynard expressed his gratitude, saying, "All of the citizens of North Carolina owe you a debt of gratitude."
Paige Pahlke, who represents the Greenes has been a tireless advocate for injured individuals and their families for over a decade. Her commitment to justice and her dedication to her clients have not gone unnoticed. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine from 2014 to 2023 in the field of personal injury, Pahlke's exemplary work in this case reaffirms her status as a legal champion who advocates for justice for those in need.
Greenes: Heroes of Justice Kellie Crabtree Award
The story of the Greenes reminds us that heroes can be found among us, the willingness to stand up to big companies and fight for what’s right subjecting oneself to the rigors of litigation when the primary beneficiary is not you but North Carolina citizens. The Greenes unwavering commitment to justice, even when faced with a daunting challenge, sets an inspiring example for all of us. The Kellie Crabtree Award rightfully celebrates their extraordinary contributions to the cause of justice in North Carolina.