A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury has awarded more than $450,000 to the family of a man who died from metastatic lung cancer after his primary care physician did not follow-up on lung scans showing an abnormality.
Carl Palmer, a former smoker, voluntarily attended a lung cancer screening program at Greater Baltimore Medical Center in November 2005, where a CT scan revealed an abnormality in his upper right lung, according to James D. Cardea, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
A letter was sent to Palmer’s primary care physician, E. Timothy Souweine, recommending annual scans but Souweine never arranged one, Cardea said. In March 2008, Palmer had a chest X-ray prior to undergoing surgery for an unrelated issue and again the abnormality was noted and Souweine was notified and a follow-up was recommended but never done.
By the time Palmer was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, it was stage four. He died two years later at age 79.
“Our allegation was, had he been diagnosed and treated prior to July of 2008, he would have been a stage one, would have undergone surgery, and would have been cured,” said Cardea, a partner at Schochor, Federico and Staton P.A. in Baltimore.
Palmer’s estate and surviving family filed suit in 2013 against Souweine, GBMC and the two radiologists who identified the abnormality. After a nine-day trial, a jury found only Souweine liable and returned a verdict Thursday of more than $160,000 in economic damages and $300,000 in non-economic damages after approximately five hours of deliberations.
“A follow-up CT scan was required based upon the abnormality in the lung and nobody ever specifically recommended it and nobody specifically scheduled it,” said Cardea, who tried the case with colleague Jonathan Goldberg. “Ultimately, the jury decided it was the primary care doctor that was responsible for scheduling it.”
GBMC’s internal protocol called for a letter to be sent to Palmer and his doctor around 10 months after the screening to remind them of the annual follow-up but the hospital did not, according to Cardea.
A spokesman for GBMC said the hospital “extends sympathy to the family of Mr. Palmer for their loss.”
Palmer’s wife and children were thankful for the verdict after what was an emotional process, according to Cardea.
“It was very emotional, obviously, going through their father’s illness then sitting through a lengthy trial reliving what happened to their father,” he said.
Souweine was represented by Michael J. Baxter and Edwin L. Keating III of Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones P.A. in Baltimore. Baxter did not return a request for comment Friday.
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Estate of Carl W. Palmer et al. v. E. Timothy Souweine MD et al.
Court: Baltimore County Circuit Court
Case No.: 03C13008118
Judge: Michael J. Finifter
Proceeding: Jury trial
Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff against primary care physician $161,862.12 economic damages, $300,000 non-economic damages ($75,000 to the estate, $75,000 to the decedent’s wife, $25,000 each to six surviving adult children)
Incident: November 2005 to March 2008
Suit filed: July 19, 2013
Verdict: May 18, 2017
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: James D. Cardea and Jonathan Goldberg of Schochor, Federico and Staton P.A. in Baltimore.
Defendants’ Attorneys: Michael J. Baxter and Edwin L. Keating III of Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones P.A. in Baltimore for defendant E. Timothy Souweine; Andrew E. Vernick of Vernick & Associates LLC in Annapolis for defendants Anthony Chiaramonte III and Advanced Radiology P.A.; Paul J. Maloney, Carr Maloney and Joseph A. Smith of Carr Maloney P.C. in Washington D.C. for defendant Janis M. Kenny and American Radiology Services Inc.; and Neal M. Brown and Christina N. Billiet of Waranch & Brown LLC in Lutherville for defendant Greater Baltimore Medical Center Inc.
Count: Negligence, wrongful death and survival action