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Widow of North Okanagan man sues doctors, Interior Health for $1 M in lost death benefits

Eric Nolting, 38, died in 2012 after a battle with cancer.
Image Credit: Alternatives Funeral & Cremation Services
January 13, 2017 - 8:00 PM

ONE MORE PRICE FOR ALLEGEDLY FAILING TO NOTIFY PATIENT OF POSITIVE CANCER DIAGNOSIS

VERNON - It’s not getting any easier for the family of a North Okanagan man who died after doctors allegedly failed to inform him of a positive cancer diagnosis in 2007.

Eric Nolting’s widow was also denied a $1 million life insurance claim because of it, iNFOnews.ca has learned.

According to court documents, the payment was denied on the basis that Armstrong man Eric Nolting, who died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 38, failed to disclose aspects of his medical history during an interview with The Co-Operators Life Insurance Company in 2011.

A lawsuit filed against his doctors and the Interior Health Authority by his wife, Shannon Nolting, alleges he couldn’t have told them what he didn’t know himself at the time.

Nolting, a commercial pilot, went to the doctor in 2007 for treatment of a bleeding mole, and was told he would only be contacted if there were concerns with the test results. Unbeknownst to him, the mole tested positive for cancer. He didn’t find out about the missed diagnosis until 2012, when he went to the doctor about night sweats and lethargy.

Nolting sued his doctors and the Interior Health Authority, but died before the case was heard. His wife is continuing to fight the legal battle, and in November 2016, she filed an updated notice of claim against the doctors and the health authority that demands damages for the lost death benefits. 

“As a result of the negligence of the defendants… and their consequential failure to advise the deceased of the results of the pathology report… the deceased innocently failed to disclose (the diagnosis),” the lawsuit states.

As the sole beneficiary, Shannon Nolting was supposed to receive a payment of $1 million upon his death. The insurer denied the coverage because of “non-disclosures and misrepresentations made by the deceased during the application process” in November 2011 — before he found out he had cancer.

During the interview, Nolting was asked if he had ever been diagnosed with, or received treatment or advice, for cancer, tumour, abnormal growth, or an unusual skin lesion. He answered no.

Shannon Nolting filed a claim against the insurance company in 2014, however that case is currently on hold. She is now suing the health authority, the medical clinic and the doctors for the $1 million in lost benefits. She was already claiming relief for loss of financial support, loss of companionship, loss of child care and other damages.

In December 2016, Interior Health filed a third party notice against the Co-Operators Life Insurance Company, stating it “wrongfully, negligently, and in breach of its contract of insurance” denied the benefit payment. The health authority states any alleged misrepresentation by Nolting was due to “confusing or vague questions which did not fairly allow for an accurate response….”

Interior Health also says the insurer used inexperienced or unprofessional agents to conduct the telephone interview with Nolting, which led to him not being made aware of the importance of the question.

If Interior Health is found liable at the end of the court case, it says it is entitled to contribution from the insurance provider and two of its agents to cover the damages.

Michelle Robichaud, a spokesperson for the Co-Operators Life Insurance Company, would not provide a comment while the case is before the courts.

The parties next appear in Vancouver Supreme Court May 15. None of the allegations have been proven in court. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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