The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered Fortis Insurance Company to pay $10 million in punitive damages for revoking HIV patient’s health insurance coverage.
S.C. insurance litigation-South Carolina Supreme Court upholds punitive damages verdict against Fortis after they dropped an HIV patient’s health care coverage.
Columbia, SC–South Carolina insurance litigation lawyers continue to celebrate the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a multimillion dollar verdict they recovered for a teenager who suffered from Fortis Insurance Company’s “highly reprehensible” business practices. According to TheSunNews, Fortis Insurance Company appealed a previous $15 million punitive damages jury verdict awarded to Mitchell after hearing the court case of Fortis’ incorrect denial of health care coverage after the plaintiff was diagnosed with HIV in April 2002.
The high court ruled on Monday, September 14, 2009, in favor of Mitchell in the insurance litigation claim. The original punitive damages verdict recovered by Jerome Mitchell Jr., of $15 million was reduced by the high court to $10 million when the South Carolina Supreme Court Justices ruled.
According to court documents, Mitchell received health care coverage by Fortis, now operating as Assurant Health, in May 2001. At the time Mitchell was 17 year’s old and attending school. Mitchell discovered he was HIV positive in April 2002 when he attempted to donate blood through the Red Cross. He sought confirmation and of his grave medical diagnosis through his personal physician and began treatment as covered under his medical insurance policy through Fortis.
To Mitchell’s shock, the insurance company denies his medical claims and dropped him as a patient citing he failed to inform the insurance carrier of his HIV diagnosis in May 2001. Fortis referred to a documentation error made by a nurse in his chart that stated his HIV blood test was positive in 2001 instead of 2002, a simple mistake. Mitchell appealed the insurance companies decision to a committee who refused to accept the documentation error. The young man who was preparing to attend college and left without medical coverage hired an insurance litigation attorney. The Gazette revealed the attorney contacted the health care provider, furnished a copy of the original HIV blood test with the correct date. A second committee review by Fortis upheld the original drop in coverage decision and Mitchell was left with no health insurance coverage for 20 months. Fortis finally changed its mind and Mitchell sued for damages.
South Carolina insurance litigation alerts by legal news reporter Heather L. Ryan.
Heather L. Ryan, R.N., C.L.N.C- Heather Ryan is a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant with 15 years of experience in the health care industry. Her expertise in reviewing medical records and assisting lawyers with the determination as to whether legal action should be taken provides an invaluable asset to the newsroom. Medical-malpractice, products liability, personal injury and workers’ compensation are some of the recent areas of litigation Ms. Ryan has focused her efforts on. A member of the Florida Justice Association, Heather maintains a long list of certifications and credentials to support her areas of expertise and stays up-to-date with her clinical knowledge working as an emergency room/trauma nurse, at a Level 1, Adult/Pediatric trauma and teaching institution in South Florida.