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
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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