Verdicts and settlements reported in this week’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly newspaper, show the continued appreciation by jurors, of the terrible impact that severe injuries can have on the victim’s enjoyment of life. Obstetrical negligence resulted in permanent neurological injuries to an infant, when the obstetrician failed to go to the hospital in a timely manner to deliver his patient’s infant. The case settled for 2.2 million dollars. Another seven-figure settlement, this one for 1.5 million dollars, was obtained by attorneys for a 58 year old man, whose life expectancy is shortened because of a delayed diagnosis of testicular cancer. The delay, of approximately two years, allowed a tumor that might have been completely removed, to metastasize to the pancreas.
In order for a lawsuit based on delayed cancer diagnosis to succeed, the delay must be long enough to have deprived the plaintiff of life or life expectancy. Although there are no hard and fast rules, it may be difficult to prove causation if the delay before the cancer was diagnosed, was less than one year. Yet another delay in cancer diagnosis reported in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, involved malignant melanoma on the plaintiff’s foot. The delay was also two years, and the settlement also 1.5 million dollars.
Finally, there is reported another example of juries’ continued, laudatory, appreciation of the value of quality of life, of people with severe mental disabilities. A Norfolk County jury awarded a 5.95 million dollar verdict to a 30 year old mentally disabled woman, who was sexually abused by the cantor of the temple attended by her family. The defendant admitted to the sexual abuse. It took the jury four hours to reach its multi-million dollar verdict, based entirely on the emotional trauma to the victim.