OK Jury Sends Message to Aetna with $25 Million Verdict

Blog, Insurance and Healthcare Denials, Insurance Bad Faith

An Oklahoma jury just sent a strong message to health insurer Aetna when it awarded $25.5 million to the husband of Orrana Cunningham, a woman for whom Aetna denied coverage for proton beam therapy as treatment to treat her stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer.

Ms. Cunningham unfortunately passed away but her husband brought a ‘bad faith’ action against Aetna for its improper denial. Aetna denied the request for coverage claiming that the proton beam therapy was merely investigational or experimental. However, proton beam therapy was not actually experimental and had previously been covered by Aetna before it changed its policy.

Orrana and her husband, a retired Oklahoma City firefighter, mortgaged their dream home and set up a GoFundMe page to help pay the $92,082.19 to get the therapy her doctors had prescribed. Unfortunately, Orrana died May 30, 2015, at the age of 54, in part from a viral infection that reached her brain.

Throughout the trial Aetna never took responsibility for any part of its denial and instead closed its arguments by reaffirming its pride in the medical directors who made the denial. The jurors took notice and awarded $15.5 million dollars in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

If you have been denied coverage by your insurance company in California because the insurance company deemed the treatment to be experimental or investigational then contact our office to explore what options are available to you.