Morrison Mahoney Partner Noel Dumas recently obtained a defense verdict in a 10-day wrongful death case in Bristol Superior Court. The client was a diagnostic radiologist who was alleged to have missed a suspicious finding on a chest x-ray of the plaintiff/decedent. Ten months after the chest x-ray in question, the plaintiff/decedent developed hemoptysis and was soon diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Sadly, she died less than a month later.
The defense of the case centered around the fact that there was no significant change between the chest x-ray interpreted by the defendant from a prior chest x-ray performed two years earlier for complaints of persistent cough. Critical in the presentation of this evidence was the defense expert, who supported the interpretation of the chest x-ray by the defendant. In terms of causation, the defense presented evidence that the plaintiff/decedent’s lung cancer was a particularly aggressive form of the disease which is resistant to treatment and has a very poor survival rate (non-small cell poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma). Moreover, using doubling times of this type of cancer, the defense oncology expert was able to estimate that the primary tumor would have been undetectable at the time of the defendant’s chest x-ray.