Breast cancer victim’s kin gets $2.5M for misdiagnosis

Published by The Boston Herald, June 26, 1997

A Middlesex County jury yesterday awarded a Waltham family $2.5 million in the death of their wife and mother to misdiagnosed breast cancer.

The suit said Dr. James Vernon, a surgeon at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, was responsible for repeatedly failing to diagnose breast cancer resulting in the death of 45-year-old Paula Bolles.

"We're glad it’s all over - this is really for my mother," said daughter Julie Bolles, 24.

Neither Vernon nor his employer, Newton-Wellesley Surgeons Inc., would comment on the court’s decision last night.

The Bolles' family attorney, Andrew Meyer, said the doctor is still practicing.

Court records said in November of 1989 that Bolles, who had a history of breast cancer in her family, was concerned over a mass in her left breast and saw Vernon at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where he reassured her it was nothing.

"She sought out this doctor (Vernon) specifically so that he would watch over her.

"She pointed the problem out to him and he gave her false assurances," Meyer said.

Six months after Bolles brought her concerns to Vernon and after he told her on several occasions the lump was not cancerous, she had her breast biopsied and was immediately admitted for an emergency radical mastectomy at Newton-Wellesley.

Shortly thereafter, Bolles was transferred to New England Medical Center, where she underwent chemotherapy and had a bone marrow transplant.

She died in April of 1993, leaving behind three children and her husband Paul.

"It brings closure for us and for my mom because she was the one who initiated this case and she really felt that she was not taken care of properly," Julie Bolles said.

"We're all very glad that the jury agreed with her. "

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