A women was awarded $12 million by a Philadelphia jury in a terminal breast cancer suit against her two doctors who allegedly did not diagnose the cancer before it had progressed to a terminal stage.
According to the plaintiffs attorney, Donna Lee Jones, one of the doctors settled before the trial, but the jury found that the doctor who settled was still 35% responsible for his failure to diagnose the breast cancer. The plaintiff’s attorney stated that her client, Angela Sutherlin, can recover up to 65% of the verdict, which is %7.8 million from the doctor who decided not to settle, Arthur D. Magliner. A 12-member jury came up with the unanimous verdict after a weeklong trial in Philadelphia.
According to court papers, Sutherlin had a screening mammography in June 2003 in a Fox Chase mobile unit. The suit alleged that, due to Sutherlin’s history of breast problems, including a bloody discharge from her nipple that required a prior biopsy, she was not a proper candidate for a “screening” test in the mobile unit and instead should have undergone a “diagnostic” test.
Magilner stated that Sutherlin’s questionnaire, which was completed by technicians, did not mention Sutherlin’s surgical history or that she had gone through breast reduction surgery in 2000. The lawsuit alleged that Magilner’s report falsely described a “dilated duct” that was “unchanged” and suggested a follow-up test in one year.
But Jones argued that a comparison of Sutherlin’s 2001 and 2003 mammograms revealed that his report from the 2001 test did not mention of a dilated duct. She stated that Magliner missed the change in her left ductal prominence, which is where a lump and her cancer developed.
The suit alleged that when Sutherlin had another mammogram in March 2004 at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, another doctor, Susan Summerton, interpreted the films and noted “several small nodular densities,” but found that they “remain stable compared to prior studies.” But the suit alleged that no nodular densities had been noted in the prior report, and that Summerton therefore should not have labeled the finding as benign.
The second doctor, like Magliner, did not diagnose Sutherlin’s breast cancer when it was in the curable Stage 1 and would have only required a mastectomy. Jones and Summerton settled before trial began.
Sutherlin’s surgery was unsuccessful due to the fact that the cancer metastasized her bones and organs and she is only receiving palliative care. But her attorney states that even the high-dose narcotics cannot control her pain.
Before the trial Jones was only demanding $2 million from the doctors, which was the combined limit for their insurance policies, and warned if a jury found them guilty the amount would be much larger. Magliner only offered a $125,000 settlement and chose to go to trial.