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Conversely, though, by placing the case under ERISA, CIGNA could be forced to pay $100 a day for each day it withheld ISAC 92-001 from the Ewerses. Since the Ewerses first asked for the contract in 1996, the fines could total more than $200,000.
Berry filed a separate complaint asking for the documents under ERISA statutes.
A Superior Court judge should rule on the case in the next two weeks.
If the judge denies the Ewerses a copy of the contract, there may be only one other way to get a copy of the document:
"There must be someone out there, an attorney or a policyholder or someone, who has one," Ewers says. "Maybe there's someone out there who will read this and be able to help us out."
Her other hope is to find other children and their parents who were covered by individual conversion plans and were denied therapy benefits by CIGNA beginning in 1989.
"At this point," Berry says, "I have no idea how many people were affected by this. It would be nice to know. And we're certainly not going to find out from CIGNA."
CIGNA officials told New Times they are unable to retrieve data on how many families with developmentally disabled children held conversion policies in the late 1980s, or how much CIGNA had paid out to those families.
As of June 2001, CIGNA's public relations director, Tania Graves, says CIGNA had 78 individual conversion plan members, a tiny fraction of the total 206,918 CIGNA HMO plan members in the state.
(Any one of those 78 plan members is welcome to call New Times to discuss their policies and contracts. Under federal ERISA statutes, too, any one of those 78 plan members must be given copies of contracts by CIGNA upon request.)
"I've just been led to believe that this was a truly abusive situation," Ewers says.
"We were lucky. We found ways and had ways available to get Ryan the therapy he needed to be able to live a rich life.
"But you know there are families and children who weren't so lucky. It's those people that really deserve the help now. And it would be wonderful to help them get what they deserve."