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Partner Paul M. da Costa and associate, Daniel Devinney, recently secured a $800,000 settlement in a failure to timely diagnose and treat subcutaneous melanoma case. Paul’s clients alleged that the subcutaneous melanoma was diagnosable on MRI six months prior to ultimate diagnosis of Stage IV metastatic melanoma. It was alleged that the six-month delay in diagnosis caused Paul’sclient to transition from a Stage IIIa melanoma to a Stage IV metastatic melanoma. The defendants were the reading radiologist and the radiology facility where the MRI was done. Paul’s clients claimed that the defendant radiologist misinterpreted the MRI insofar as he diagnosed Paul’s client with a hematoma, which is almost always a benign condition. Although the defendant radiologist suggested a follow-up MRI in six to eight weeks, the MRI report did not specify the reason for the suggested follow-up. To that end, Paul was able to get the defendant radiologist to acknowledge at his deposition that the reason for the suggested repeat MRI was to rule out cancer.
It was also alleged that the defendant radiology facility failed to perform required MRI sequences, which would have increased the chances that the defendant radiologist would reach the correct diagnosis. The defense claimed that Paul’s client should have undergone the repeat MRI, which would have diagnosed the melanoma. Simultaneously, the defense asserted that Paul’s client already had Stage IV melanoma at the time of the MRI. Consequently, the defense claimed that Paul’s client only had a 15-20% chance of survival as of the time the MRI was done. Furthermore, since Paul’s client is still fortunately alive 5.5 years post diagnosis, the defense argued that he may very well be cured at this point in time. Paul’s clients contended that the six-month delay in diagnosis resulted in a lost chance of survival insofar as a Stage IIIa melanoma had a 10-year survival rate of 68%. Ultimately, the defendant radiologist agreed to settled this case for $500,000, and the radiology facility defendant contributed an additional $300,000.