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Montana Jury Awards Insured $34 Million

Justice was served to a Nebraska-based insurance company last week when a jury awarded 90-year-old, Arlene Hull, $34 million to compensate her for the insurance company's wrongful denial of benefits under her policy.

In 1997, Ms. Hull and her husband purchased a long-term insurance plan that was to pay for the medical and living expenses in their old age. Since 2007, Ms. Hull has suffered from Alzheimer's disease and moved into an assisted living facility in 2008.

In 2010, Ability Insurance Company determined that Ms. Hull no longer qualified for benefits to treat her dementia because the company found that she did not need "continual supervision due to a severe cognitive impairment." Under Ms. Hull's policy, Ability Insurance argued that it was therefore not obligated to provide coverage. The jury was persuaded by Ms. Hull's argument that the policy only required cognitive impairment to establish coverage. Ability had refused to pay benefits under the policy for nearly two years.

Ms. Hull's fight against Ability paid off. After the trial last week, the jury awarded Ms. Hull $250,000 for breach of contract; $2 million for violation of Montana's Unfair Trade Practices law; and $32 million in punitive damages, though punitive damages are capped at $10 million under the law. Ms. Hull, with the help of a jury of her peers, can now afford to receive the continuous assisted living that she needs, and, most importantly, that she paid her insurance company to provide.

If you or someone you know has been wrongfully denied coverage under an insurance policy, contact the attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Friend by calling 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584.

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