If a legal dispute has no Internet footprint, is it still relevant?

The Gazette thinks so.

A few months ago we were notified about a complaint filed in the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in December 2006 by Little Flower Manor nursing home (located in Wilkes-Barre’s Heights section) against one Betty Jane Barrett and her sister, Suzanne MacNeely. Betty Jane was at the time, and remains to this day, the wife of Wilkes-Barre City councilman Bill Barrett. See the full complaint by clicking on the thumbnail below.

Little Flower-Barrett-MacNeely legal complaint

Little Flower-Barrett-MacNeely legal complaint

In 2006 Bill Barrett was serving on Wilkes-Barre City Council. He is currently council vice chairperson, representing District D, and running for re-election to council.

The Little Flower Manor complaint alleged that Betty Jane Barrett and her sister had “accepted the transfer of their father’s resources [prior to admitting him to the nursing home] with full knowledge that the transfer rendered their father insolvent and that it was intended to avoid making said resources available to pay Plaintiff Little Flower for the care and services that it rendered to their father” and sought judgment against them of some $30,000.

The dispute was settled in Little Flower’s favor within a few weeks with the filing of a “Praecipe to withdraw, discontinue, and end” by Little Flower’s counsel.

Councilman Barrett did not respond to a Gazette email sent to his city council email address seeking comment. We ask our readers: did this matter deserve media coverage in late 2006 and early 2007? Queries placed with a number of Internet search engines returned no references to the complaint. Is the dispute relevant today, given Bill Barrett’s continued influence upon Wilkes-Barre City legislation and policies? To what degree of scrutiny should our public servants be subjected? The Gazette would answer all those questions in favor of transparency.



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