Family of Teen Leukemia Patient Sues Cigna for Wrongful Death After Insurance Company Refuses to Pay for Her Liver Transplant

The family of a 17-year-old leukemia patient who died in 2007 while waiting for a liver transplant is suing CIGNA Corp. for wrongful death. Nataline Sarkisyan’s family says the insurance company’s initial refusal to pay for her liver transplant caused medical delays that lead to her death.

Following a public protest, Cigna eventually agreed to pay for Nataline’s procedure, but by then, the lawsuit contends that it was too late. She died within hours after the insurer agreed to pay for the transplant.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs are accusing Cigna of unfair business practices, breach of contract, delaying and rejecting legitimate claims, and purposely inflicting emotional distress.

Cigna, however, says the company was never obligated to pay for the transplant because the treatment was experimental, unproven, and not covered under the family’s insurance plan. Cigna says that if Nataline had survived and the procedure had taken place, the insurer was going to pay for it out of the company's own pocket.

Diagnosed with leukemia since age 14, Nataline underwent a bone marrow transplant in November 2007. Complications following the procedure, however, caused liver failure. Nataline’s family asked Cigna to cover her liver transplant, but the insurance company rejected their request. Four doctors appealed to Cigna to reconsider.

Insurance Bad Faith
If you believe that your insurance company was unjustified in rejecting a claim, you may have grounds to file a “bad faith” claim. A Kentucky unfair claims practices lawsuit allows you to pursue damages owed to you under your insurance policy, as well as personal injury compensation and punitive damages.

Calif. teen's family sues Cigna over transplant, Associated Press, December 26, 2008

Leukemia Victim's Family Blames CIGNA For Delays,, December 30, 2008

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Cancer Girl's Lawyer Blames CIGNA For Her Death, CBS, December 20, 2007