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More MS news articles for July 2003

Determination wins victim of MS a court award

Friday, July 25, 2003
Steve Berry
The Province

Penney Asselstine is not one to give up.

Her determination pitted her against both her former employer, the University of B.C., and the Manufacturer's Life Insurance company -- and she won.

Asselstine developed multiple sclerosis while employed in the fertility clinic at UBC and was subsequently fired. When she applied for disability benefits, the insurance company turned her down.

Asselstine took her case to the Supreme Court of British Columbia, which has awarded her full disability benefits, plus aggravated damages of $35,000 and punitive damages of $150,000.

"I don't give up," Asselstine said yesterday. "I was determined to fight this the whole way."

In her judgement, Madam Justice Nancy Morrison criticized both UBC and the insurance company for their attitude.

"The defendants failed to deal with Ms. Asselstine in good faith," she wrote. "In examining the termination process, I find the plaintiff was dealt with unfairly."

Morrison found that Asselstine's health suffered due to the case, and in awarding punitive damages, fired a warning shot.

"I award punitive damages here as a reminder that it is not in the economic interest of the insurer to engage in similar conduct in future similar situations," she wrote.

Asselstine said she pushed the case for herself and now hopes to get on with her life.

"It's going to be interesting to see what effect the lack of stress and fear has on my life," she said.

Copyright © 2003, The Province