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$25.5 Million Dollar Bad Faith Insurance Verdict in Oklahoma

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At the end of a two-week trial, an Oklahoma jury awarded $25.5 million to the family of a cancer patient who was denied coverage by Aetna. The patient, Orrana Cunningham, had stage four nasopharyngeal cancer near her brain stem. Due to the location of the cancer, her doctors wanted her to receive proton beam therapy, which is a targeted form of radiation that could pinpoint the tumor without the potential of blindness or other side effects of standard radiation. Aetna denied her coverage for this treatment, calling it "investigational" and "experimental."

Orrana filed suit against Aetna for denying her coverage. Her family mortgaged their home and set up a GoFundMe page to help pay the medical charges exceeding $92,000 to receive the therapy her doctors prescribed. Sadly, Orrana died from a viral infection before the case went to trial, however her family continued with the lawsuit.

At trial, Aetna maintained that it acted appropriately in denying coverage in this case, saying there was a "lack of clinical data supporting proton therapy for treating nasopharyngeal tumors." Dr. Andrew L. Chang, an expert radiation oncologist, testified at trial that proton therapy is not new or experimental, and instead is a well-established treatment for cancer and has been for decades. Dr. Chang also testified that before Orrana died, the prescribed treatment was working and her tumor was shrinking. After considering the evidence, the jury awarded the family $15.5 million in emotional distress damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The jurors said that Aetna acted "recklessly" and the verdict was meant as a message for Aetna to change its ways.

If you or someone you know has been affected by an insurance company acting in bad faith, it is important to find a skilled law firm with experience handling these cases to ensure that companies are held fully accountable. The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz is the oldest personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys are standing by to assist with your claim. Call us today at 713-396-3964 or 1-800-594-4884 for your free consultation.

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