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Jury awards $19 million to former Marine

Local insurance news alert! What happens when an insurance company decides that an injured marine is staying in the hospital for waaaaay too long? They lose about $19 million in punitive damages. Yikes.

A paraplegic former Marine from Westminster was awarded more than $19 million Wednesday in a ruling against his insurance company that decided it was not necessary for him to have spent more than 109 days in the hospital.

A Los Angeles jury deliberated for less than two hours before delivering its verdict against Stonebridge Life Insurance Co. and awarded Thomas Nickerson $35,000 for pain and suffering and $19 million in punitive damages, the Associated Press reported.

Stonebridge Life Insurance had decided to pay Nickerson for a 19-day hospital stay saying it was not medically necessary to have spent 109 days in the hospital.

“I think it was a good decision from the jury,” Nickerson said. “I’m still a little light-headed. It’s a blessing.”

Jim Wood, who represented Stonebridge, said he was disappointed with the verdict and promised an appeal.

“Stonebridge acted in good faith in evaluating Mr. Nickerson’s claim and the company handled his situation appropriately based on his policy and its coverage terms,” Wood said in a statement.

In 2008, Nickerson said, he fell off a ramp while trying to get into his handicapped van and broke his right leg in two places, according to the Associated Press.

Nickerson said he was admitted to Veterans Administration Hospital in Long Beach where doctors determined he needed to stay for 109 days, the Associated Press reported.

Nickerson had an accident indemnity policy and expected Stonebridge to pay $350 a day during his hospital stay to help pay for non-medical bills such as rent and electricity. The total for 109 days would have been $38,150.

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Written by lordsinsurancelog

March 17, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Insurance News