hey most people dont really know this but in california it is illegal for cell phone providers to charge for an early termination fee.
I actually found this out from a friend that works for verizon. I know ur not in Cali but it might be a shot to take it up to court if your willing to. considering that the statues in california already ruled in your favor. I dont really know much about the topic but maybe its something that you can research into and hopefully it will help you out. Wish the best for you and ur family.