Jacqueline Mandell, one of the Practice Team Leaders of KBR’s Appellate Practice Department, wins summary judgment in a medical malpractice case involving the death of a patient.
The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to timely diagnose her decedent with B cell lymphoma which, she claimed, caused his untimely death. The defendants moved for summary judgment and demonstrated that even with an earlier diagnosis, the decedent’s medical management, treatment options, prognosis and overall survival would not have been affected. According to the defendants’ expert, this type of cancer is typically not diagnosed until it reaches Stage III or Stage IV and by then, treatment is exclusively palliative in nature and is strictly symptom-directed; the treatment for advanced B cell lymphoma would not provide the patient with a cure of the disease or even prolong his life. The defendants established that the plaintiff’s decedent already had advanced (Stage III or Stage IV) lymphoma when he first began treating with them and as a result, the alleged failure to make an earlier diagnosis was not actionable because there was no causal connection between the purported delay and the decedent’s death.
In granting summary judgment to the defendants, the court found that the plaintiff’s expert failed to rebut the defendants’ proof that earlier treatment would not have cured the patient or prolonged his life. As a result, the Court deemed the expert’s opinions conclusory and therefore insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact as a matter of law.