Ovarian Cancer Malpractice Verdict: $11.325M

2014 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

Fertility Doctor Fails to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer

The plaintiff is a 41-year-old married woman who has advanced stage ovarian cancer. When she was 35, she went to see the defendant doctor, a reproductive endocrinologist, at a local fertility clinic. Over the course of a year, the defendant oversaw multiple fertility treatments that ultimately were not successful. As part of the fertility testing and treatment, the plaintiff underwent several pelvic ultrasounds which showed an area of abnormality. The defendant suspected this area was a common benign finding, which did not affect fertility and did not warrant further work-up. The defendant claimed the abnormality did not have any of the characteristics of cancer as it was cystic appearing, lacked thickened walls, and lacked nodules.

See news coverage of this trial:
IVF doc missed cancer diagnosis

After a year of unsuccessful fertility treatment under the defendant’s care, the plaintiff changed fertility clinics. Her new doctor performed a laparoscopic procedure removing the area of abnormality which led to the diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant should have considered cancer, should have run additional testing, and should have performed an exploratory laparoscopy to properly evaluate the area. The plaintiff further claimed that as a result of the delay, the cancer went from curable to incurable.

The defendant contended that this was a rare form of ovarian cancer known as borderline cancer, and the prognosis was not affected by the alleged delay. The defendant further contended that the prognosis was worsened by the plaintiff’s own conduct after diagnosis because she sought to preserve her fertility. It was argued by the defendant that the safest and most effective treatment for cure would have been to have all reproductive organs removed surgically. Instead, the plaintiff chose organ-sparing surgery which would have preserved her ability to carry a child. The plaintiff claimed she was following her treating doctors’ advice. The defendant claimed that she was choosing less aggressive therapy because of her desire to be able to conceive in the future.

There was no offer made prior to trial. There was no offer made during the trial. After two hours of deliberations, the jury asked a question about future damages. Only then did the insurer make a settlement offer. The settlement offer at that point was rejected and a verdict was taken. The jury awarded the plaintiff $5,000,000 for pain and suffering and other general damages to the present, and $4,000,000 for pain and suffering and other general damages in the future. The jury also awarded her husband $500,000 for loss of consortium. With interest, the judgment is in excess of $11,000,000.

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

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