A Baltimore County jury awarded $465,000 on Tuesday to the estate of a 87-year-old Harford County man who died of kidney cancer in 2015 just weeks after his diagnosis, one the estate alleges could have been made two years earlier and possibly saved his life.
The jury award includes $100,000 to Albert E. Ragan’s estate for conscious pain and suffering and $339,000 for a wrongful death claim made by his wife, Lacy. Jurors said they awarded an amount ending in 65 because that was how long the couple was married.
“The jury was well aware of that,” said Paul D. Bekman, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers. “I think they liked the family very much.”
In October 2012, the then-84-year-old Ragan was losing weight and experiencing night sweats, which can be symptoms of cancer for an elderly person, the lawsuit states. Ragan was referred at Advanced Radiology for a CT scan of his chest, abdomen and pelvis to rule out cancer. The scan did not show any abnormalities, the lawsuit states.
Ragan continued to lose weight and went back for another CT scan in September 2013, according to the complaint. The scan was done with a dye that helps diagnose tumors and found none, according to the complaint.
Over the next two years, Ragan continued to lose weight and began having trouble with his knee, the lawsuit states. In August 2015, Ragan went to his primary care doctor for clearance to have a full knee replacement surgery, according to the complaint. The doctor had Ragan get another CT scan in response to Ragan’s continued weight loss, which came back showing a nearly two-inch tumor on Ragan’s kidney and that the cancer had spread to his lungs and back, according to the complaint. Ragan died six weeks later at age 87.
A subsequent review of September 2013 scan showed the tumor was half as large and had not spread.
“Had his kidney been removed then that would have been a cure,” said Bekman, of Bekman, Marder & Adkins, LLC in Baltimore. “The family felt that this was something that should have been reported. The CT scan was misread and any opportunity that Mr. Ragan may have had to continue a normal life was taken away from him.”
Ragan was an active member of his community. Known as the “unofficial mayor of Churchville,” Ragan was a Harford County deputy sheriff from 1975 to 1962, ran Fountain Green Food Market from 1962-1965 and was a realtor for Harry Hopkins Real Estate. He was also president of the Harford County chapter of the American Cancer Society, according to his obituary.
Ragan was in “good shape,” for his age, Bekman said, and took care of Lacy, who is three years older.
“He would do everything for her,” Bekman said. “He would cook for her, he would clean, he would take her out,” Bekman said.
Albert Ragan had diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease but all of those conditions were under control with medication, Bekman said.
G. Branch Taylor of Taylor & Uhl LLC in Chevy Chase, a lawyer for Advanced Radiology, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
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Lacy L. Ragan, et al. v. Advanced Radiology P.A., et al.
Court: Baltimore County Circuit
Case No.: 03C16004676
Judge: Keith R. Truffer
Proceeding: Jury trial
Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff of $465,000 in noneconomic damages ($126,000 to Estate of Albert E. Ragan and $339,000 to Lacy L. Ragan)
Incident: October 2012 to September 2015
Suit filed: May 2, 2016
Verdict: Oct. 17, 2017
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Paul D. Bekman, Michael P. Smith and Aryeh M. Rabinowitz of Bekman, Marder & Adkins LLC in Baltimore
Defendants’ Attorneys: G. Branch Taylor and Diane M. Uhl of Taylor & Uhl LLC in Chevy Chase
Count: Negligence, wrongful death