Just weeks after beloved Fresh Prince of Bel Air star James Avery died after open heart surgery, the woman who played his wife on the show is revealing her own secret medical crisis. Janet Hubert, who played Will Smith‘s Aunt Viv from the first episode until she was fired in 1993, claims in a lawsuit filed against the American Federation of Television and Radio Acts and the AFTRA Health Fund that she is suffering from “intense spasms” and “strange chattering” that have kept her unable to work. Now, she’s suing to get her insurer to cover her treatment.
“There is a lot going on, health-wise,” Hubert confessed to Radar in an exclusive interview. “I have had a lot of issues over the years, but I’d like my benefits back. That’s all. They’ve sort of denied me some very very important medical things that I need to feel good.”
Hubert’s health issues first began in 2004, the court documents claim, when she was treated by a chiropractor for “military neck,” a rare condition involving the loss of spinal curvature. That treatment was covered by the H&R fund, an employee benefit plan utilized by AFTRA.
The next year, Hubert claims that she developed vertigo so intense that she “was unable to drive … and was told to sleep sitting up for six weeks, which she did and which did not help.”
H&R continued to cover her treatment by several doctors during that period. Meanwhile, she also “developed intense pain in her face,” the suit explains, so she began to see an acupuncturist, which H&R “paid for on a nearly steady basis.”
But her condition was only getting worse.
Hubert says she soon “began developing a strange ‘chatter’ in her jaw; was unable to comb her hair; could not touch her face; had severe reactions to sound; would awaken with her mouth clenched; could not move her body in a manner she was used to; and found light painful.”
She saw a jaw specialist and even underwent surgery to attempt to solve that issue, but still “the problems persisted.”
Even through all of that, H&R continued to cover her care as she decided to undergo treatment with a “dry needle trigger point specialist” who would “insert needles into [her] face, head and jaw.”
Far from providing relief, Hubert says, those treatments preceded “episodes of intense spasms from which she would collapse.” She claims she saw more than six doctors, and no one could give her relief.
“During this time,” the documents explain, “the Plaintiff’s ability to work all but stopped.”
But finally, she found a cure: “Trigger point injections” into key areas of her muscles “helped reduce the pain and other symptoms tremendously.” After at first paying for these treatments out of pocket, she continued to see this specialist for several years, and eventually, the documents claim, the visits were covered by H7R. She saw another trigger point specialist on the side, but paid for those out of pocket.
Then, around 2011, Hubert claims H&R sent her a letter stating that they had never meant to pay for any of those trigger point sessions, and that her treatment had been “excessive in terms of frequency and duration.” They claimed that only up to 4 such injections per year were “medically necessary,” and Hubert had received 42 since 2010.
H&R agreed to allow her up to sixteen treatments a year at the trigger point specialist, but determined any more would have to be paid out of pocket.
Hubert filed several appeals, to no avail. Since, she “has been unable to afford continuous treatments” with her trigger point specialist. As a result, she claims “She has been unable to accept numerous jobs. She has been forced to go on disability.”
Hubert filed the lawsuit in L.A. last year asking for a jury trial to award her unpaid benefits, attorneys fees and costs, “relief” for the treatments retroactively, and an order directing H&R to pay for the treatments in the future.
Stay tuned to RadarOnline.com for the latest in the case.