Dardinger v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield

Licking County Court of Common Pleas; Fifth Appellate District; Supreme Court of Ohio

Palmer successfully convinces Ohio Supreme Court that an insurance company exhibited bad faith resulting in $30 million in punitive damages and the creation of a first-of-its-kind cancer research fund.

After being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her brain, Esther Dardinger was undergoing intra-arterial chemotherapy by her neuro-oncologist at The James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute - Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. The insurance company approved the first three of 12 treatments, but then refused further payment declaring the procedure “experimental.” Despite the fact that Ester Dardinger was responding favorably to treatment and that the same treatment had been approved for other patients, Anthem continued to deny the claim during a protracted appeals process. While the appeal was pending, Esther Dardinger’s health declined and she died. The final denial letter arrived the day after her funeral. In 1999, a Licking County Common Pleas Court jury found Anthem liable for breach of contract and bad faith and awarded $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $49 million in punitive damages. After appeals by both parties, the Ohio Supreme Court agreed with the award of punitive damages, stating that a pervasive corporate attitude at Anthem placed profits over people. The court reduced the amount of punitive damages to $30 million (the highest ever approved by that Court) and ordered that a significant portion of the award be used to create a memorial cancer research fund at The Ohio State University in Esther Dardinger’s name.

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Read entire opinion [PDF]
Punitive damages article [PDF]

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