Melanoma Malpractice Lawsuit Settles for $2 Million

2011 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Wrongful Death: Failure to Properly Treat Melanoma in 46-year-old Man

On 11/6/06, the decedent went to the defendant dermatologist with a mole on his right arm. A shave biopsy was performed and revealed superficial spreading melanoma. The sample was then examined by the defendant dermatopathologist who noted that the surgical margins were free of tumor. It was determined by both defendants that the melanoma was a Clark’s Level III and that it had a depth of 1.1mm. The decedent was never referred by either defendant to an oncologist for discussion of further treatment.

Three weeks later the decedent returned to see the defendant dermatologist who recommended the decedent see a surgeon in order to have a further excision to ensure clean margins. The decedent saw the defendant surgeon who performed a wider excision of the right arm lesion and took at least 1.0 cm surrounding the lesion or healed site. After that excision, there was no further treatment given or offered to the decedent by the defendant surgeon.

On 3/24/09, the decedent presented to his primary care physician complaining of low back pain off and on for the past several months. A bone scan was ordered and showed an aggressive lesion in the right superior pubic area that was metastatic melanoma. He also had a CT of the brain which revealed a large mass with some small areas of cystic necrosis within the left occipital lobe. It was determined that this mass was also metastatic melanoma. Despite aggressive treatment, the cancer spread to his spinal cord and ultimately caused his premature death in December of 2009 at the age of 46.

The plaintiff was prepared to present expert testimony in this matter showing that the defendants should have biopsied the decedent’s lymph nodes after learning that he had a melanoma that was 1.1mm deep. It was the opinion of the plaintiff’s experts that the melanoma was present in his lymph nodes in November 2006 and was treatable with chemotherapy.

The defendants were prepared to present testimony that they treated the decedent’s melanoma appropriately at all times. They were further expected to offer expert testimony that the decedent’s cancer was not treatable in November 2006 and that his outcome would have been the same even if diagnosed earlier.

The case settled for $2,000,000 at mediation.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the plaintiff in this medical malpractice lawsuit.

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