A man from New York has been awarded $3,706,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer by a jury at the Nassau County Supreme Court.
In June 2012, John Ficke (52) had a biopsy performed on a lesion on his sternum, which was diagnosed by pathologist Dr. Asher Rabinowitz from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manhattan as a dysplastic melanocytic nevus – the equivalent of a benign mole.
Still concerned by the lesion, John underwent a second biopsy the following June that revealed he had a desmoplastic melanoma – a rare cancer of the skin that was considered malignant. Further tests revealed that the cancer had metastasized and entered one of John´s lymph nodes.
John started radiation treatment, but in February 2014 was diagnosed with stage-IV lung cancer. John started more aggressive chemotherapy treatment, but the size of the tumor in his lung tripled. A change of chemotherapy reduced the tumor´s size, but his condition has been diagnosed as terminal and John is expected to survive no longer than five years.
John sought legal advice, and his lawyer had the initial biopsy from 2012 re-examined. The expert pathologist working on John´s behalf found that Rabinowitz had misdiagnosed the original biopsy and gave the opinion that the error constituted a departure from an accepted standard of medical care.
With this evidence, John claimed compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer against Rabinowitz and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The pathologist denied that he had been negligent, and produced evidence showing that a rare, desmoplastic melanoma would not normally be located on the sternum.
Despite denying liability, Rabinowitz and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons made an offer of compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer amounting to $675,000. The offer was rejected, and the case went to the Nassau County Supreme Court, where it was heard by a jury before Judge F. Dana Winslow.
After nine days of evidence, and six hours of deliberations, the jury found in John´s favor. They awarded him $3,706,000 compensation for the misdiagnosis of skin cancer, which included $3,256,000 for his pain and suffering and $450,000 towards his wife´s past and future loss of services.