By: Joe Marchelewski
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Los Angeles Jury Awards $14.42 Million to a Woman Who Became Addicted to Opiates Because of Health Net’s Delays
Los Angeles, CA – December 12, 2022 – A Los Angeles Superior Court Jury ordered health care giant, Health Net, to pay $14.42 million, including $6.92 million in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in punitive damages, to a woman represented by Shernoff Bidart Echeverria Partner Travis Corby. The woman alleges she became addicted to opiate pain medication at the hands of her insurance for taking months to provide timely referrals to specialists.
In February 2017, Ms. Courtney received an urgent referral to a colorectal specialist for a surgical consult after having needed urgent medical care for a pelvic prolapse issue. According to her health care plan with Health Net, an appointment should have been available within 96 hours. However this was not the case, she was told that the correct specialist was not available to her under her Health Net Medi-Cal plan, despite there being 25 colorectal surgeons available in its Southern California network.
Opioid medication became a dependency that Ms. Courtney relied on after a ten-month delay in which she finally received her surgery on December 13, 2017. The medication was only first prescribed to her while she waited for Health Net to arrange and provide access to specialists.
During the excruciatingly long year of delays, Ms. Courtney also experienced immense pain while being given the runaround by Health Net’s bureaucracy. She was unable to care for her four children, use the bathroom without intervention, and had been prescribed opioid pain medication to manage the pain while waiting for surgery. All the while, Health Net had been on notice about her circumstances and had ample opportunities to step in and deliver the specialist services that are promised to plan members under their contact.