You may recall the case of Nataline Sarkisyan, 17, who was denied a liver transplant by CIGNA, on the grounds that the operation was “too experimental.” Nine days later, following a number of protests, the company changed its mind, but it was too late: Nataline died hours later, on Dec. 20, 2007.

Ten months later, Hilda and Krikor Sarkisyan went to CIGNA’s Philadelphia headquarters, along with members the California Nurses Association, who have long supported Medicare for All, to confront CIGNA CEO Edward Hanway over the death of their 17-year-old child.

Naturally, they were not allowed to talk to Hanway. Far worse, however, was the fact that a CIGNA employee flipped the group off from a balcony. That finger may cost CIGNA dearly, despite a later CIGNA apology.

The Sarkisyans filed a wrongful-death suit againt CIGNA, but a Los Angeles judge threw out the suit, saying it was barred by a 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protects employer-paid health care plans from damages with regards to their coverage decisions. That’s the bad news.

The good news, from U.S. District Judge Gary Allen Feess, is that the Sarkisyans could pursue damages for any emotional distress caused by the Philadelphia incident. Indeed, that’s where the finger comes into play.

Essentially, as Hilda Sarkisyan admitted herself, it’s ludicrous. They cannot sue because CIGNA denied treatment, essentially killing their daughter, but flipping the bird, that they can sue for. Admittedly, it would seem a jury would be sympathetic to the family.

The family is not interested in the money. They are interested in change.

“If you don’t sue, you can’t make changes,” Hilda Sarkisyan said. “It’s not about the money. It’s about the principle. They are just going to keep denying people care if we don’t stop them.”

Watch a video showing the Philadelphia “incident.”

Originally on SNAFU-ed


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