A jury in Montana awarded a monster of a verdict to a 90-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s Disease after her insurance company cancelled her long-term care policy because it decided she didn’t actually need the level of medical care she was receiving.
According to the Billings Gazette, the woman and her husband purchased the long-term care policy back in 1997. The husband passed away a year later, but she continued to pay the premium.
In 2007, a doctor diagnosed the plaintiff with dementia — subsequently diagnosed as Alzheimer’s — and in 2008 she was moved into a nursing home where she could receive the necessary medical attention. At the time, her insurance company had no problem paying out her long-term care benefits.
But then in 2010, the insurer, which had changed names and ownership numerous times in the 13 years since the policy had been purchased, reviewed the plaintiff’s case and decided that because the patient was only “moderately” impaired, she did not require “continual supervision.”
It gets better.
The insurer reversed course in 2011, deciding that the woman actually did require the care she’d been receiving up until the time it pulled the benefits rug out from under her. And while that’s all well and good, the insurer determined it would not pay for that time during which the patient had gone sans benefits.
Last week, the jury in the patient’s lawsuit against the insurer found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded her more than $34 million — $250,000 for breach of contract, $2 million for violation of Montana’s Unfair Trade Practices law, and $32 million in damages.
However, Montana law limits punitive damages to $10 million, so even the plaintiff’s lawyer admits that the insurer will likely be successful in appealing the amount of the verdict.
Jury awards elderly Billings woman $34 million in long-term care dispute [Billings Gazette]