Widow of deceased cancer patient fights for $1-million life insurance claim

by Leo Almazora29 Mar 2017
A woman in BC is claiming that a clinic’s failure to send a report of her husband’s cancer diagnosis led to his death — and later led to a rejection of her $1-million life insurance claim.

Shannon Nolting is filing a lawsuit against several doctors, a clinic, and a hospital, all of whom she said failed to notify her deceased husband Eric of his melanoma diagnosis, according to CBC News.

As per the court filing, Eric visited a walk-in clinic in Vernon around ten years ago for a check-up on an irritating mole. The mole was cut off and sent to a local hospital for a biopsy; doctors allegedly promised to contact him if there was anything wrong.

Although a pathology report diagnosing malignant melanoma was later found, he supposedly only learned he had Stage 4 melanoma after visiting another doctor in May 2012 to complain about weight loss.

“Eric and I were just absolutely in shock,” Nolting said.

Four months after that diagnosis, the commercial pilot sued the clinic, the doctors, and the hospital for failing to contact him about the biopsy results. In December 2012, he died at age 38, leaving behind two children and a case yet to be heard in court. The claim has since been modified to have his wife and children listed as plaintiffs.

“He said, 'Please promise me you will continue this case to the very end,'” Nolting said. “I wanted to do whatever I could for him, so I promised.”

In defence, the doctors and clinic said that the hospital should have sent the clinic a hard copy of the pathology report, but it never arrived. The doctors claimed they had no access to the hospital’s computer system, preventing them from checking it electronically.

Filing a statement of defence on behalf of the hospital, the Interior Health Authority said that the document would have been sent to the clinic via courier or fax as per normal protocol. It also alleged that Eric “unreasonably failed” to do a follow-up on the biopsy results.

The case of the missing report also affects Nolting’s $1-million claim on her husband’s life insurance. In 2014, she filed a civil suit claiming they applied for a life insurance policy with the Co-operators in 2011, which the insurer has refused to honour following his death.

In its statement of defence, the insurer said that Eric answered “no” after being explicitly asked if he’d ever received treatment for cancer or an “unusual skin lesion.” The non-disclosure, according to the insurer, voids the plan.

Nolting has countered that her husband didn’t know he had cancer then, so he couldn’t have told the company about it. In her lawsuit, she is demanding that the $1-million claim be paid out, along with interest and compensation for legal costs.

“I'm not here to gouge people for money,” she said. “I'm here to be fair.”

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  • by MichaelS 2017-03-29 12:51:28 PM

    The timeline is not very clear. Presumably, the client had the mole removed in 2002.

    In 2011, he applied for coverage and did not disclose that he had had a mole removed, therefore voiding his contract.

    In reality, had he disclosed the mole removal and declared that no further action was ever taken, the company would have likely issued the policy on the basis that it had been 10 years and no further follow-up was ever recommended. There was no way for anyone to know that the clinic had not done its job unless an APS was ordered.

    The company is following its non-disclosure to the tee. Sucks but...