An Oklahoma jury has awarded $25.5 million to the family of a cancer patient denied coverage by Aetna, with jurors saying that the insurer acted “recklessly” and that the verdict was meant as a message for Aetna to change its ways.
The award is believed to be the largest verdict in an individual “bad faith” insurance case in Oklahoma history, one court observer said, and could have major ramifications across the country for a form of cancer treatment called proton beam therapy.The case revolved around the 2014 denial of coverage for Orrana Cunningham, who had stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer near her brain stem. Her doctors wanted her to receive proton beam therapy, a targeted form of radiation that could pinpoint her tumor without the potential for blindness or other side effects of standard radiation. Aetna denied her coverage, calling the therapy investigational and experimental. Orrana and her husband, Ron Cunningham, a retired Oklahoma City firefighter, had been together since 1987.– CNN