$16.7 Million Judgment In Boston Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit

A cancer misdiagnosis can mean the difference between life and death for affected patients. Misread test results, CAT scans, X-rays and blood work happen far more often than one might think, with recent statistics showing an alarming increase in diagnostic errors made by our nation’s health care professionals.

In one recent case that was reported on by The Boston Globe, a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit brought against Dr. Peter Clarke of Brigham and Women’s Hospital ended with a $16.7 million judgment against the defendant, who made a critical error when reviewing his patient’s chest X-ray. Jurors determined that as a direct result of the misdiagnosis, Boston resident Jeanne Ellis died of lung cancer at the young age of 47.

The court ruled in favor of 33 year-old Johnette Ellis, the victim’s daughter, whose attorney presented the decedent’s original chest X-ray, replete with a 1.5 cm cancerous-looking nodule.

$16.7 million award rendered in cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit

According to the report, Jeanne Ellis visited the ER of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in October 2006, complaining of a chronic cough. Chest X-rays were promptly ordered to see if Ellis had pneumonia, and were later read by Dr. Peter Clark who saw nothing abnormal. The Boston woman was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics to treat a suspected upper respiratory infection.

During the trial, legal counsel for the plaintiff presented evidence that the 1.5 cm nodule in Jeanne’s right lung, which had gone undetected, had grown to almost 3 cm, and was later joined by several other cancerous tumors.

Though the defendant declined an interview, the hospital released the following statement:  “The Brigham and Women’s Hospital community extends our sincere sympathies to Johnette Ellis for the loss of her mother…We believe that Dr. Clarke acted in accordance with the diagnostic standards of care and that, sadly, Ms. Ellis’s cancer was incurable at the time Dr. Clarke became involved in her care.”

Dr. Clark’s attorneys say they intend to ask Suffolk Superior Court Judge Bonnie MacLeod for a new trial following the $16.7 million verdict, which includes $11 million in compensatory damages, plus interest. Jeanne Ellis passed away in 2008.

According to Dr. Clark’s lawyers, he did observe regions of “opacity” in Ellis’ X-ray, but those areas were not considered suspect at the time, as he believed they were nothing more than adjacent organs and tissue structures. The defense further contended that X-rays were ineffective as a diagnostic tool for cancer, and that the decedent’s full history had not been provided at the time. Ellis’s own mother had also died of lung cancer and she herself had been a smoker for the past 30 years.

“Lung cancer is a bad way to die, and she suffered significantly,” said the medical malpractice attorney for Johnette Ellis, who was the only child of Jeanne.

Consultation with NY misdiagnosis lawyers

If you or a loved one has been affected by a medical misdiagnosis, you may have a viable claim for damages. For more information about your rights to filing a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit in New York, please call The Sanders Firm medical malpractice attorneys today.

Whether your treatment took place in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Staten Island or Long Island, we can help you determine if you qualify for monetary damages due to delayed or negligent care under a health care provider. The initial consultation is always free and our legal fees are only paid after you recover compensation in the form of a settlement or court award.

Call our NY offices toll-free at: 1.800 FAIR PLAY (800.324.7752). Resources

  1. Boston Globe, $16.7 million award in cancer lawsuit http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/06/29/overlooked-lung-cancer-results-million-verdict-against-radiologist/rbFZ4e94nIeH57r46ixVSL/story.html
  2. ABC News, Misdiagnosis of Cancer http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132213