Disabled California Eye Surgeon
Recovers $31.7 Million Against
On Jan. 24, 2003, a jury in Marin County, California returned a $31.7 million damage verdict against UnumProvident in favor of Dr. Randall Chapman, a Novato, California eye surgeon after a three-month trial.
Dr. Chapman sued UnumProvident in 2001 after the insurer refused to pay the $11,600 monthly benefits under the doctor’s long-term disability policy purchased during the 1980s.
Dr. Chapman claimed that he was disabled as a result of a phobia he developed that caused him to shake, making it impossible for him to perform eye surgery. Initially, UnumProvident paid disability benefits for a period of three months before denying further payments based on the company’s doctor findings, which disagreed with the diagnosis. The $ 31.7 million judgment included $30 million in punitive damages. The award was granted based on evidence that demonstrated that Unum denied policyholders’ valid claims based on budgets and targets.