Insurance Company Ordered To Pay $10 Mil. For Revoking Policy Of HIV-Positive Teen
The trial jury had awarded the former college student, Jerome Mitchell, $15 million in punitive damages; the Supreme Court reduced that amount by $5 million.
Mitchell learned that he had HIV when, while heading to college, he donated blood. Fortis then rescinded his coverage, citing what turned out to be an erroneous note from a nurse in his medical records that indicated that he might have been diagnosed prior to his obtaining his insurance policy.
Before the cancellation of the policy, an underwriter working for Fortis wrote to a committee considering whether or not to rescind his policy: “Technically, we do not have the results of the HIV tests. This is the only entry in the medical records regarding HIV status. Is it sufficient?” The underwriter’s concerns were ignored and the rescission went forward.
In the ruling, Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal wrote: “We find ample support in the record that Fortis’ conduct was reprehensible … Fortis demonstrated an indifference to Mitchell’s life and a reckless disregard to his health and safety.”Click here for reuse options!
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