Failure to diagnose cancer yields $8 million verdict

A Dallas County, TX, jury has awarded an $8 million verdict to a woman and her husband after a group of doctors and other medical professionals failed to diagnose the woman’s breast cancer for more than a year after she discovered a lump in her breast. Rebecca Stephens and her husband, Tripp, were represented during the three-week trial by attorneys Charla G. Aldous and Cary L. McDougal in Dallas.

Aldous explains that in September 2000, Rebecca Stephens went to her primary care physician for her annual medical examination, which showed no signs of breast cancer. The following month, she discovered a lump in her right breast while performing self-examination. That same day, she visited her obstetrician, who ordered a mammogram and sonogram to be conducted the following day.

That examination also came back negative. Six months later, Stephens still had the lump in her breast, and went through another mammogram and sonogram. For the second time since she first discovered the lump, she was told that she did not have breast cancer. Six months after that examination, she informed her doctor that the lump remained, but was told it was benign.

Two months later, Stephens began experiencing back pain, and visited her primary care physician and a breast surgeon. After a series of tests, it was determined that Stephens had cancer in her spine and hip. Another mammogram and sonogram revealed that Stephens also had breast cancer. The Stephens sued, claiming that the doctors and medical professionals who examined Stephens were negligent and failed to uphold the accepted standards of medical care.

On April 8, 2004, a Dallas County jury awarded Stephens and her husband $8 million in the trial heard by 68th District Court Judge Charles Stokes. The jury issued its verdict against Stephens’ primary care physician and a breast surgeon who examined her in November 2000. The jury found no negligence on the part of a radiologist who interpreted one of Ms. Stephens’ breast studies in July 2001.

Of the $8 million total verdict, Stephens was awarded $3 million for past and future physical pain and mental anguish, and $3 million for past and future physical impairment. Her husband was awarded $2 million for past and future loss of consortium.