A jury in U.S. District Court in Billings, Montana has awarded 90-year-old Arlene Hull $34 million against the long-term-care insurance company Ability Insurance Co. According to the lawsuit, Ability Insurance violated the terms of the long-term-care policy when it claimed she no longer qualified for benefits and stopped paying St. John’s Lutheran Home assisted-living facility for her care, saying Hull, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was only “moderately” impaired and did not need “continual care.”
Hull and her husband started paying Ability in 1997 for their long-term-care policy. When Mr. Hull died in 1998, Mrs. Hull continued to pay on the premium. In 2008, Hull was admitted to the nursing facility, and the insurance company paid her benefits. However, in 2010, the insurance company stopped paying her benefits.
Then, in 2011 the insurance company reversed a decision to stop her benefits, but refused to pay Hull for the period of time when they had dropped her coverage.
The jury, in the court of Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, awarded Arlene Hull $250,000 for breach of contract, $2 million for violations of Montana’s Unfair Trade Practices law, and punitive damages in the amount of $32 million, the Billings Gazette reports. The award will likely be reduced as Montana caps punitive damage awards at $10 million.