Sunday, June 17, 2007

Melanoma patient wins malpractice suit

DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO – A terminal skin cancer patient whose doctor missed his symptoms has won a $5.7 million malpractice judgment from a San Diego Superior Court jury.
Under a 1975 law, the money Regis M. Reilly and his wife actually stand to collect will be reduced to about $2 million, his lawyer, N. Denise Asher, said Wednesday.

Beyond the money, the verdict, delivered last week, is significant because “my clients can hear someone tell them that they have heard them and they understand,” Asher said.

“This was a particularly wicked cancer,” Asher said. “It grew very fast and it needed to be caught immediately.”

Reilly, 54, said in his lawsuit against dermatologist James C. Powers that the doctor failed to biopsy a cyst when Reilly went to see him for bumps on his shoulder in August 2006.

“Essentially, the doctor just missed it,” Asher said.

By the time Reilly was referred to another doctor in December, Asher said, the cancer had spread. She said Reilly underwent surgery to remove the cancer from his shoulder three times but it had metastasized to other parts of his body and was determined to be terminal.

Had the cancer been caught in its early stages, Asher said there was a 95 percent chance that Reilly would have recovered. He is now confined to his home and receives 24-hour care.

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