Skip to main content

Iron KayDan Shea’s Aunt Kay was 83, vibrant and healthy in 2011, when she suffered terrible injuries in a head-on accident. Kay spent five months in the hospital rehabilitating and being repaired with so many metal parts that the family dubbed her “Iron Kay.”

Then the real fight began—one that changed Dan, a San Diego civic booster and Republican notable, into an implacable foe of insurance company tactics. He’s told Kay’s story in a short, even charming, video, “The Iron Lady,” that calmly exposes corporations trying to outwait Kay’s lifespan to preserve their profits.

Farmers and two affiliates of Nationwide have been resisting a settlement for more than two years and counting. It’s costing the corporations a bundle, but if Kay dies before their legal options run out, they’ll save a bundle. It’s a perfectly legal tactic, which Dan is determined to change. The fight is Kay’s reason for living through her pain.

Kay will never be the same: She can’t drive and can barely walk. She’s living with family and dependent on them. But she’s fully determined to get as far back to normal as possible.

Kay expected to at least recover financial independence, even after $800,000 in hospital bills. Both Kay and family of the 17-year-old boy in the truck were very well-insured by major companies. The boy was at fault, but there was no rancor between the families.

Then they encountered the insurance lawyers. It ultimately dawned on them that the insurance companies would benefit by delaying until Kay died, to make most of their liability disappear.

Kay originally did not want to sue, so Dan asked for mediation. Farmers Insurance, the boy’s insurer, agreed but stalled for months. Then the insurers offered a ridiculously low settlement--barely over half of the medical bills, much less her ongoing medical costs. Then they stalled some more and tried intimidating Kay with a long deposition about her life since adolescence.

When the case got to court in October of last year, within a few days a jury spurned the insurers’ argument that they really owed little, and awarded Kay $2.1 million dollars.

Kay hasn’t gotten a penny. The insurance companies stalled again, and on January 7 they demanded a new trial. When it’s denied, they can file for an appeal. That could string out for a year or two.

Dan Shea found that having plenty of insurance, no matter how much it costs in premiums, doesn’t mean the company will protect you when you need it. And that everything the insurers have done is within the law.

Dan and his family have the determination and resources to keep fighting, and Dan is calling on state legislators to fix these interminable delays.

The fix shouldn’t stop at auto and property insurance. There are also horrible insurance company incentives embedded in state medical malpractice law. For instance, if an infant is severely disabled by medical negligence, insurers for the doctor and hospital could have to pay millions for a lifetime of expert care.

If the baby somehow dies, its economic value dies, too. The law in California restricts dead-child lawsuits to such a low payout that grieving parents usually can’t even get a lawyer to take their case. So what incentive does an at-fault hospital or doctor have to keep that baby alive?

The same is true if the wronged patient suffers a terminal illness—why pay now if you can stall until the problem literally goes away?

We need more people with Dan’s determination to change this.

Posted by Judy Dugan, Research Director Emeritus for Consumer Watchdog.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Egg, Alfred E Newman, Ducktape, teacherken, Gooserock, bosdcla14, Sprinkles, Emerson, Shockwave, mslat27, eeff, Matilda, exNYinTX, Creosote, astro, Heart of the Rockies, cyberKosFan, BlackSheep1, annrose, susakinovember, CoolOnion, boadicea, lorikay4, pedrito, ornerydad, jalbert, Bill Roberts, fumie, splashy, Cedwyn, fluffy, wader, Texknight, TexDem, plan9pub, RandRegL, cosette, mnguitar, frostieb, zerelda, randallt, Sassy, murrayewv, Armand451, rapala, maybeeso in michigan, marina, jrooth, ichibon, UncleCharlie, caul, LarisaW, chimene, democracy inaction, irate, one of 8, dewtx, viral, CinDan, SaraBeth, Sun Tzu, most peculiar mama, blue jersey mom, markdd, Sandino, kaliope, Shotput8, kerplunk, Cory Bantic, bookwoman, SocioSam, Jim R, CJnyc, Born in NOLA, Knucklehead, BachFan, myboo, Mr Bojangles, tobendaro, emeraldmaiden, Themistoclea, profundo, sailmaker, praenomen, jguzman17, StrayCat, philipmerrill, Rosaura, Preston S, Game Theory, middleagedhousewife, justiceputnam, onionjim, doingbusinessas, Tom Anderson, AllanTBG, Aaa T Tudeattack, Thinking Fella, bluicebank, pfiore8, Habitat Vic, peagreen, Russ Jarmusch, ColoTim, la urracca, operculum, mommyof3, klondike, SeaTurtle, carpunder, eyesoars, gizmo59, JDWolverton, misterwade, JeffW, kimoconnor, HappyinNM, Youffraita, Involuntary Exile, skohayes, Laughing Vergil, alasmoses, monkeybrainpolitics, Lujane, tofumagoo, HarpboyAK, Mayfly, shortgirl, prettygirlxoxoxo, zmom, ceebee7, greengemini, MKSinSA, asym, Leslie in KY, Keith Pickering, stevenwag, sfarkash, nocynicism, Just Bob, Crabby Abbey, pixxer, NYWheeler, addisnana, Oh Mary Oh, slice, Onomastic, misshelly, ozsea1, spooks51, slowbutsure, sostos, HiKa, FarWestGirl, princesspat, marleycat, Lusty, muddy boots, KVoimakas, JWK, Grandma Susie, worldlotus, RMForbes, whoknu, fossil fish, bluedust, disconnect the dots, Joe Jackson, Marihilda, bakeneko, Vatexia, SteelerGrrl, Laurel in CA, Mathazar, bluezen, OldDragon, anodnhajo, sow hat, IndieGuy, ahumbleopinion, rustypatina, barkingcat, ANY THING TOO ADD, Yonkers Boy, CA ridebalanced, TBug, BusyinCA, Olkate, MartyM, pittie70, Buckeye54, flume, wxorknot, avsp, Victim of Circumstance, FrY10cK, dotdash2u, George3, AZ Sphinx Moth, Robynhood too, Most Awesome Nana, nuclear winter solstice, jusjtim35, TheMeansAreTheEnd, countwebb, The grouch, SanFernandoValleyMom, 84thProblem, goodpractice, weck, HedwigKos, aresea, Yo Bubba, alice kleeman, howabout, Jon Sitzman, Smoh, Patango, Ishmaelbychoice, maggid, duhban, oslyn7, The Marti, Fish Man, Penny GC, occupystephanie, Skyye, cjtjc

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site