Attorney David W. Skall and The Becker Law Firm recently obtained a $4.35 million settlement for the family of a man who tragically passed away after a dermatopathologist failed to diagnose skin cancer.
As a result of the missed melanoma diagnosis, our client was not diagnosed until his cancer has progressed to Stage IV metastatic melanoma (roughly 3.5 years later), by which time there were few viable options for treatment, and a poor prognosis for the patient.
Our client died within 6 months of the diagnosis, leaving behind a wife and three children.
About the Case
The case involved a 42-year-old- married father of three, who in 2015 underwent a shave biopsy of a mole on his right forearm. The defendant dermatopathologist who evaluated the tissue sample incorrectly determined it to be benign.
However, it was later discovered that the tissue was early Stage I melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer that can spread rapidly to other organs if not identified and treated at an early stage. The cancerous tissue was confirmed via re-examination of the pathology slides in 2018.
Re-Examination of Tissue Slides
After diagnosing Stage IV metastatic melanoma in 2018, our client’s cancer specialists were trying to determine its origin, and learned that our client had previously been a patient of the defendant dermatopathologist 3.5 years prior for the biopsy of a mole on his right forearm. At the time of the initial biopsy, the defendant physician had prepared tissue slides, did a pathology, and shortly after reported to our client and his wife that the mole was benign.
However, with such an advanced stage of cancer in 2018, our client’s cancer specialists decided to request and re-evaluate the tissue slides from the 2015 biopsy. When they did, they discovered a tragic error: the defendant dermatopathologist had mistakenly assessed and reported the mole to be benign when it was, in fact, early Stage I melanoma.
The specialists who ultimately made the correct diagnosis in 2018 called our client and his wife in late September 2018 to inform them that they had “some very bad news.”
Lawsuit & Settlement
Given the tragic losses resulting from the missed diagnosis, our firm filed a lawsuit in Summit County, Ohio. The suit alleged the defendant dermatopathologist negligently misevaluated the initial 2015 biopsy, and that this negligent evaluation caused a 3.5-year delay of the correct diagnosis – in effect allowing our client’s cancer to progress from highly curable to terminal, and ultimately causing his death within 6 months of the 2018 diagnosis.
Attorney David Skall worked closely with medical experts in the case, and was able to resolve the litigation by negotiating a $4.35 million settlement for the family in November 2019.
Though no amount of money can serve as recompense for the tragic and untimely loss of life, the recovery provides compensation for the pain and suffering endured by our client prior to his passing, as well as justice and financial support for our client’s surviving wife and three children.
The Becker Law Firm is grateful for the trust our clients placed in our team during this tragic and emotionally turbulent time. As a law firm that’s secured notable results in a range of complex medical claims, including those involving missed diagnoses and failures to diagnose cancer, we are committed to helping clients obtain accountability for medical mistakes.