Our client, a 50-year-old woman visited a neurologist with complaints of dizziness and loss of balance and coordination. The doctor failed to order a sufficient work-up which would have led to a diagnosis of paraneoplastic neurologic syndrome, a condition in which the body has an autoimmune response to a malignant tumor, and which in this case was attacking our client’s cerebellum.
The doctor noted in the medical record that he should do tests related to this when he initially evaluated the patient, but he did not follow through.Because the proper work-up was not done, our client’s condition grew worse and worse. She wound up in a wheelchair and had great difficulty talking. She ultimately lost the use of her arms and her hands, thereby losing the ability to feed herself.At trial, our lawyers presented a neurologist who is a noted expert on paraneoplastic neurologic syndrome who explained that the disorder is most often associated with cancer and involves an autoimmune response to a tumor. He further explained that although rare, the condition is known to the medical community and blood tests for antibodies are available.
The expert also said that had the defendant followed through on his initial suspicions and done an appropriate work-up, he would have diagnosed the condition prior to our client’s condition becoming so severe. In fact, later on, the woman was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer which was the precipitating cause of this autoimmune response. The cancer was readily treated, but the condition it caused was devastating to our client’s life and livelihood.
Because of the severity of the condition, our client was awarded a substantial verdict: the jury awarded her $8,004,000, including $2,500,000 for past pain and suffering, $280,000 for past loss of business profits, $2,000,000 for future pain and suffering, $2,224,000 for future custodial care, $620,000 for future loss of business profits, $180,000 for past loss of consortium, and $200,000 for future loss of consortium.