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Valley Girl's Death Spurs Lawsuit Against CIGNA

Today's L.A. Times' Business section looks at the battle of a San Fernando Valley couple

fighting a health-care giant over the death of their daughter. Nataline

Sarkisyan was 17 when CIGNA rejected her family's request for the

medical insurer to cover a liver-transplant operation urged by her UCLA

doctors. According to writer Lisa Girion, CIGNA dismissed the operation

as an experimental procedure. Nine days of bad publicity later, the

insurer relented, but too late to save the Northridge teen's life. Under federal

law, her family could not sue CIGNA. However, Nataline's mother, Hilda,

has been given the okay by federal judge Gary Feess to go after CIGNA

for emotional damages. That's because when Hilda Sarkisyan later showed

up at the company's Philadelphia headquarters to complain, employees

began heckling the mother, with one person giving her the finger.

The Times piece

goes into detail about how and why the laws protect medical providers

from being sued for deadly denial-of-service decisions, and why family

survivors seldom file wrongful-death claims. Look for appearances by

celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos and Wendell Potter, the CIGNA flack-turned-whistleblower who occasionally appears on Real Time With Bill Maher.


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