Couple Can Sue Insurance Company for Not Disclosing HIV-Positive Test Result, Court of Appeals Rules
A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday ruled that a Wyoming couple can file a lawsuit against Farm Bureau Life Insurance for failing to inform them that they tested HIV-positive, the AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports. In 1999, Renna and Gary Pehle applied for life insurance coverage from Farm Bureau, which required that they take an HIV test. Although Farm Bureau sent a letter to the couple telling them their life insurance application had been denied because of blood test results, it failed to inform them that they had tested HIV-positive. Instead, Farm Bureau offered to send the couple's blood test results to their physician with their permission, but the couple did not inquire about this option until 2001, according to the ruling. In 2001, after Renna Pehle began showing symptoms of AIDS, the couple asked Farm Bureau to release their blood test results, and the couple learned that they had both tested HIV-positive in 1999. The court panel ruled that Farm Bureau "had a duty to disclose the results under Wyoming law," according to the AP/Star-Tribune. However, the panel said that any negligence on the part of Farm Bureau would have to be determined by a jury. The court panel's decision overturned an earlier ruling in the case, in which a Wyoming judge threw out the Pehles' case against Farm Bureau, LabOne -- which conducted the couple's blood tests -- and LabOne medical director Dr. J. Alexander Lowden. LabOne and Lowden have been dismissed from the lawsuit, according to the AP/Star-Tribune (AP/Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2/10). A phone number listed for the Pehles would not connect Wednesday night, according to the Associated Press (Associated Press, 2/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.