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$2.4M Excessive for Cancer Treatment; Failure to Diagnose Lymphoma


A woman was treated at a hospital for swollen lymph nodes in her neck. Later that year, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Cancerous masses were located on her liver and spleen, and the disease had reached her bone marrow. She later died.

 

Her husband sued the doctor and hospital. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict for the husband finding that the hospital's employees were negligent in not diagnosing the woman's lymphoma and that this negligence was a substantial factor in causing the woman’s injury and death. The jury awarded $2,400,000 for pain and suffering for one year of additional cancer treatment.

 

The medical center filed a motion to vacate the liability verdict and direct a verdict or dismiss the complaint, vacate the award for pain and suffering, or allocate certain of the decedent's medical expenses. The Bronx County Supreme Court denied the medical center’s motion.

 

The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, First Department, affirmed the verdict but modified the award for pain and suffering. The court held that the verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence, and the award of $2,400,000 for pain and suffering for one year of additional cancer treatment deviated materially from reasonable compensation.

 

The verdict was supported by legally sufficient evidence and was not against the weight of the evidence. The husband's expert testified regarding causation that if the physicians at the hospital had performed a biopsy during the initial admission and subsequently followed the woman closely for lymphoma, the cancer could have been detected sooner. The court held that the husband’s expert testimony was neither speculative nor contrary to the evidence. The experts' competing opinions on causation and the progression of the disease presented an issue of fact for the jury to decide.

 

The award of $2,400,000 for pain and suffering for one year of additional cancer treatment deviated materially from reasonable compensation. The court found that $2,000,000 would be reasonable compensation. The court vacated the award for pain and suffering and remanded for a new trial solely on the issue of damages for future pain and suffering, unless the husband stipulated to reduce that award to $2,000,000 and to the entry of an amended judgment.

 

The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, First Department, affirmed the trial court’s entry of a jury verdict in favor of the husband, but modified the award for pain and suffering.

 

See: Reid v. Bharucha, 2015 WL 1058413, 2015 N.Y. Slip Op. 01991 (N.Y.A.D. 1 Dept., March 12, 2015) (not designated for publication).

 

See also Medical Law Perspectives, October 2012 Report: Mistakes in Diagnosing Cancer: Liability Concerns for Misdiagnosis, Failure to Diagnose, and Delayed Diagnosis

 

See also Medical Law Perspectives, November 2014 Report: More Than Skin Deep: Skin Cancer Misdiagnosis and Other Liability Issues

 

 

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