Shannen Doherty‘s lawyer is criticizing State Farm after the insurance company referred to the “90210” actress’ cancer diagnosis as a legal strategy to “garner sympathy.”
Doherty announced Tuesday her breast cancer, which she was first diagnosed with in March 2015, had returned at stage 4. Court documents obtained by USA TODAY also say she suffers from a chronic respiratory illness.
Doherty is in the midst of a lawsuit against State Farm over claims she was forced to pay out of pocket after her house was “severely damaged” in the 2018 Woolsey fire. She said in a “Good Morning America” interview that aired Tuesday that she decided to come forward with her diagnosis to get ahead of legal documents, which mention her cancer, being made public.
“I’d rather people hear it from me,” she said. “I don’t want it to be twisted; I don’t want it to be a court document. I want it to be real and authentic, and I want to control the narrative. I want people to know from me.”
Her attorney, Devin McRae, told USA TODAY, “Shannen’s health is not only relevant (to the case), but also the amount of time State Farm is taking from her. … She is dying. Her life is finite right now. So the fact that they’re taking her time right now is just as egregious.”
Reached Thursday, State Farm spokesperson Sevag Sarkissian said the organization would “encourage you to review all of the filings to get the full picture of what is taking place in this litigation,” adding State Farm stands by its previous statement.
On Tuesday, Sarkissian told USA TODAY: “We empathize with Ms. Doherty’s heath issues and wish her a full recovery. We strongly believe we have upheld our commitment to our customer and have paid what we owe on this claim. We are prepared to defend our position in court.”
In a court document filed Tuesday and obtained by USA TODAY, Doherty’s lawyers state she “is dying of stage 4 terminal cancer. Instead of living out her remaining years peacefully in her home, Ms. Doherty remains displaced and battling with her insurance company.”
State Farm rebuked the line in a document filed Wednesday, claiming it “reveals (the) plaintiff’s plan at trial to garner sympathy by her contention that State Farm must rebuild her entire house because she has breast cancer and COPD.”
McRae, in turn, criticized the company’s response Thursday to USA TODAY: “That line – and I really wonder where it comes from – is really just another example of continuing inexplicable hostility, contempt and unreasonable behavior toward its insured.”
He added that State Farm agrees with Doherty on nearly everything she claimed to have been damaged: “The real dispute is really only about the scope of remediation. Of course someones health is directly about how you go about remediating smoke and fire damage.”
McRae called the statement an example of the insurance company’s “unbelievable amount of bad faith” and said it has known about Doherty’s health “since Day 1 and purposefully ignored it to arrive at the least expensive means of remediation.”
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