AETNA: Must Pay $4.5M In Denial-Of-Care Suit
A California state court jury has handed down $4.5 million in compensatory damages against Aetna U.S. Healthcare Corp. for failing to mention in its marketing materials that bone marrow transplants -- which may have been able to save the life of cancer patient David Goodrich -- were excluded from its insurance coverage. The Hartford Courant reports that the jury Friday "found Aetna had acted with fraud, and that its conduct was a substantial factor in shortening Goodrich's life." The jury is scheduled today to start hearing arguments "on whether Aetna should pay punitive damages in the case" (1/19). The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that Goodrich's widow, Teresa, sued the company for "breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and wrongful death," after Goodrich died in 1995 because Aetna "failed to cover treatments recommended by the plan's own doctors." The wife was left with medical bills of more than $750,000, about $2,700 of which Aetna paid, said plaintiff lawyer Michael Bidert. According to Bidert's assistant, Sharon Arkin, the suit does not fall under the federal law banning private-sector employees from suing their HMOs because Goodrich was a government employee (Goldberg, 1/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.