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."
In an opinion issued today, the Texas First Court of Appeals in Houston held that the trial judge in an underinsured motorist insurance case did not abuse his discretion by declining to sever and abate the plaintiff's claims under the Texas Insurance Code for misrepresentation of policy terms. This case is a significant development in an area where such "extra-contractual" claims have routinely be held to be severable.
On Monday of this week, a federal jury returned a verdict finding that insurance giant State Farm Fire and Casualty Company (State Farm) shifted windstorm losses to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for one of its policyholders. The Associated Press is reporting on this jury verdict and the potential impact it will likely have on thousands of claims that State Farm adjusted following Hurricane Katrina.
According to the Los Angeles Times, a California jury recently awarded over $8 million to an elderly homeowner whose home was nearly destroyed after a dump truck crashed into the home, rupturing a gas line, and causing an explosion. Residence Mutual Insurance Co. had insured Robert Christopher's home for more than fifty years. According to Christopher's attorney, Mark Geragos, "The insurance company did everything possible to try and torpedo this World War II veteran's case."