APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RUSSELL
R. DeBOW, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE STAMOS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This action was brought to recover benefits under a major medical insurance policy issued by defendant. Plaintiffs' complaint in two counts was predicated on a contract theory for breach of the medical insurance policy and a wilful tort theory for breach of implied duty to deal in good faith. The jury returned a verdict of $20,000 compensatory damages for breach of contract and $55,000 punitive damages for the wilful tort. Defendant filed a post-trial motion seeking either judgment notwithstanding the verdict or a new trial. From the judgment on the verdict and the denial of the post-trial motions defendant appeals, contending that the proof was insufficient to support the jury verdict, and a new trial or directed verdict should have been granted; that punitive damages were improperly assessed against a not-for-profit corporation, Blue Cross-Blue Shield; and that certain errors in the admission of evidence and the presentation of instructions to the jury were committed by the trial court.
Defendant, Health Care Service Corporation, d/b/a Blue Cross-Blue Shield, issued a comprehensive major medical policy to plaintiff Sol Siegal which provided for family coverage. The initial policy of April 1, 1976, provided:
"(15) `Covered Medical Expenses' means the regular and customary charges incurred by a Beneficiary for necessary services or other items, subject to the Exclusions of IV, as follows:
(k) Private nursing services of an actively practicing nurse, other than a nurse who ordinarily resides in the Beneficiary's home, or is a member of the Beneficiary's immediate family, as follows:
(2) Other than in a Hospital, services of a registered nurse (R.N.);
No benefits shall be provided hereunder on account of
(6) Services or supplies not necessary to treatment of injury or illness; * * *."
On April 1, 1977, plaintiffs' insurance group purchased a different plan which provided coverage, inter alia, for:
"(22) Private Duty Nursing Services When services of an actively practicing registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, other than a nurse who ordinarily resides in a Member's home or is a member of the Member's immediate family, when the attending Physician verifies the medical necessity for active treatment.
A. No payment will be made under Article IV of Part `C' for any expenses incurred ...