CHICAGO (CBS)–The check is good and it’s been cashed.
That means nearly 100 employees of a bankrupt business that owes thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills are finally seeing relief.
Home Owners Bargain Outlet (HOBO) shuttered the doors of its five Chicago-area stores and two Milwaukee locations after the discount home improvement chain filed for bankruptcy last fall.
The former owners are finally taking action for employees who were left with unpaid medical bills that should have been covered by their insurance policies.
HOBO was home away from home for Julie Cwik.
“It was difficult to process that last paycheck and say goodbye to a lot of those people,” she said.
She was among the 350 people who lost their jobs when the owners of the home improvement store, Kathleen and Leo Schmidt, filed for bankruptcy and closed the store last December.
Cwik was also on the list of 91 workers facing $210,000 worth of unpaid medical bills that should have been paid by the company-provided insurance.
Cwik owed just a fraction of that amount—a little more than $3,000.
Collection agencies soon started calling to recover the past due amount.
“It’s frustrating,” Cwik said. “It’s very frustrating.”
The frustration continued for months, until CBS 2 started asking questions.
Soon, a bankruptcy court ordered the couple to pay the medical bills.
On May 9, Cwik opened an email to find out her biggest charge had been resolved.
“It was a huge relief,” she said. “I couldn’t have been more excited when I saw that come through.”
Other debtors have told her they plan to clear her other balances soon, she said.
Now that some of the former employees are getting their medical bills paid, the Schmidts have put their house on the market at nearly $1.9 million.
The Schmidts are still under investigation by the Department of Labor.