Medical Malpractice Attorneys from LPK Obtain $7.5 Million Verdict for Delayed Diagnosis of Medullary Thyroid Cancer
RIVERHEAD, New York, December 1, 2011 - Today, medical malpractice attorneys from Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP (“LPK”), obtained a verdict in the amount of $7,520,679.00 in favor of their clients Jennifer Luna and Alan Luna in Supreme Court, Suffolk County, in a medical negligence lawsuit involving the delayed diagnosis of Mrs. Luna’s medullary thyroid cancer.
Plaintiff Jennifer Luna presented to Dr. Spadafora in November 2003. Dr. Spadafora palpated an enlarged thyroid gland and ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed 5 solid nodules ranging from 2 to 3 cm in size. Dr. Spadafora noted in his records on November 14, 2003, that a biopsy was needed to evaluate the nodules.
Dr. Spadafora then referred Mrs. Luna to an endocrinologist, Dr. Aloia, for an evaluation of her thyroid nodules. Dr. Aloia saw Mrs. Luna on November 20, 2003. Mrs. Luna was 12 ½ weeks pregnant at that time. Dr. Aloia examined Mrs. Luna and told her that her enlarged thyroid and thyroid nodules were a benign condition due to her pregnancy. He recommended she undergo a TSH blood test in 1 to 2 months to make sure she did not become hypothyroid during her pregnancy. No fine needle aspiration biopsy was ordered or performed by Dr. Sapdafora or Dr. Aloia in November 2003. It was not until December 2004, 13 months later, that a fine needle aspiration was finally performed on Mrs. Luna’s thyroid nodules to determine if they were caused by thyroid cancer.
Plaintiffs contended that the enlarged thyroid and nodules were not due to her pregnancy and that a fine needle aspiration biopsy was indicated in November 2003 to rule out whether thyroid cancer was the cause of the thyroid nodules.
In November 2004 another doctor palpated plaintiff’s neck and found that she had enlarged cervical lymph nodes. Plaintiff then returned to Dr. Spadafora and Dr. Aloia in November 2004. A fine needle aspiration biopsy was performed on plaintiff’s thyroid nodules on December 2, 2004, which revealed a diagnosis of medullary thyroid cancer.
Plaintiff’s experts testified that the 13 month delay in the diagnosis of her thyroid cancer resulted in a change in the Stage of her cancer from Stage II to Stage IV. Plaintiffs’ experts also testified that the 13 month delay resulted in the spread of the thyroid cancer to the plaintiff’s lungs. Plaintiffs’ experts testified that as a result of the delay in the diagnosis of her cancer, plaintiff’s chances of a 10 year survival decreased from 85 to 90% to 10%.
Plaintiff had undergone 3 surgeries, which were attributable to the delay in the diagnosis of her thyroid cancer at the time of trial. The evidence showed that medullary thyroid cancer is not treated with chemotherapy or radiation. Rather the tumors are monitored by CT scans and when tumors progress to a certain size they are surgically removed, if possible. The medullary thyroid cancer tumors also secrete a hormone called calcitonin, which causes, fatigue and nausea. Plaintiff attempted to return to work after the diagnosis of her thyroid cancer, but the spread of her cancer and her tumor burden rendered her unable to work beginning in March of 2007.
Plaintiffs’ claimed and the jury found that Dr. Aloia departed from accepted standards of care in:
- Failing to order or perform a fine needle aspiration biopsy in November 2003,
- Failing to have a plan in place to rule out thyroid cancer;
- Telling Mrs. Luna her enlarged thyroid was due to her pregnancy; and
- Failing to tell Mrs. Luna that she needed further evaluation of her thyroid nodules after November 2003 for cancer.
Plaintiffs’ claimed and the jury found that:
- Dr. Spadafora departed from accepted standards of care in: not communicating with Dr. Aloia, when his November 2003 and December 2004 consultation reports did not address whether a fine needle aspiration biopsy was indicated at that time; and
- Failing to follow through on his plan to have a biopsy performed to evaluate the plaintiff’s thyroid nodules.
The jury awarded the following monetary damage amounts to Mrs. Luna and her husband Alan:
- $1,200,000 for past pain and suffering;
- $3,400,000 for future pain and suffering over 15 years;
- $358,875 for past loss of earnings;
- $2,311,804 for future loss of earnings;
- $58,000 current annual earnings, with a growth rate of 2.5% over 28 years;
- $250,000 to plaintiff Alan Luna for his loss of services cause of action.
The jury found that Dr. Aloia was 69% at fault, Dr. Spadafora was 22% at fault and the plaintiff Jennifer Luna was 9% at fault.
If you believe that you or your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, you should seek legal advice of experienced medical malpractice attorneys to determine if you have a case. For a free consultation with the medical malpractice lawyers at Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, please call our 24/7 toll-free hotline at 1-800-988-8005 or submit an email inquiry (see form above).
[ Top of page ]