Medical Malpractice Failure to Diagnose Melanoma -- $1,750,000

Injuries alleged: Death
Amount of settlement:
$1.75 million

Case Summary:

Plaintiff's decedent, age 26, presented to dermatology office with a mole in upper back. The mole was interpreted by defendant pathologist as a "severely dysplastic nevus (atypical melanocytic hyperplasia) with features of Spitz nevus." The pathology report stated that the "nevus extends to one superficial and deep margins." A complete excision was recommended. Plaintiff's decedent returned as directed for excision. The same pathologist reviewed the additional tissue and reported "cicatrix showing residual severely dysplastic compound nevus with features of Spitz nevus." "Presence of epidermal invasion, mitosis, and atypia are suspicious for progression to the aplasia. Nevus appears excised. Suggest follow up." Plaintiff's decedent returned to dermatologist twice more over the next six months and was lost to follow up.

Two years later, plaintiff's decedent noticed a "cyst" on his back near where the scar was from the previous excision. A biopsy of this mass performed at a local hospital was diagnosed as metastatic melanoma. Subsequently, the slides from the original biopsy and excision were obtained and reviewed as showing "melanoma, superficial spreading type, invasive to a depth of a minimum of 1.0 mm, anatomic Level IV; extending to inked deep resection margin."

Plaintiff's decedent underwent a wide local excision. He was diagnosed as having Stage III melanoma. He underwent neck and back radiation treatments and high-dose alpha Interferon treatments, followed by high-dose Interleukin-II , and then chemotherapy. Despite all treatment, plaintiff's decedent died.

Plaintiff's experts were prepared to testify that plaintiff's decedent's cancer progressed from Stage pT-IB to a Stage III by the time he was finally diagnosed and that his chances for cure would have been 94 percent with no nodal involvement and 73 percent had there been nodal involvement and progressed to a point at the time of diagnosis with a chance for cure of less than 5 percent.

After conclusion of the depositions of the defendants, the parties entered into settlement negotiations, which resulted in a settlement of $1,750,000.00.