A Kentucky jury recently awarded a woman over $3.8 million in a bad faith suit against her doctor’s insurer. Deborah Daniels v. American Physician’s Assurance Corp., 07-CI-001873 (Jefferson Circuit Court, June 2, 2009).

The plaintiff underwent a hysterectomy and tummy tuck performed by the defendant’s insured. Thereafter, her incision opened, leaving a reportedly “basketball-sized hole in her belly 7 to 8 inches deep,” causing her to undergo several surgeries and be placed in a medically-induced coma for a month. Reportedly the insured doctor performing her surgery had not been trained to perform the tummy tuck procedure, and had been terminated from another hospital for performing that procedure without proper credentials.

Reportedly the insurer’s claim file indicated that, although it determined that its insured was liable and evaluated the claim at $1 million, it refused to enter into settlement negotiations for two years before offering the plaintiff only $75,000. The plaintiff eventually settled with her doctor for $650,000, and reserved the right to sue his insurer.

The plaintiff sued the physician’s insurer. Following a trial of the plaintiff’s bad faith claims against the insurer, a Jefferson County jury awarded the plaintiff additional compensatory damages in the amount of $205,000 and $145,000 for mental anguish. The jury also awarded $3,479,277 in punitive damages against her physician’s insurer.