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Montgomery Co. jury awards $820k to woman with late colon cancer diagnosis

A Montgomery Co. jury awarded nearly $820,000 to a woman who received a late colon cancer diagnosis after doctors failed to properly evaluate her systems and perform a timely colonoscopy.

After a trial spanning more three weeks followed by three hours of deliberations, the jury awarded Teresa Brown of Gaithersburg $29,437 in past medical expenses, $40,000 in past lost wages and $750,000 in non-economic damages, said one of Brown’s attorneys, Kevin P. Sullivan, on Wednesday.

“We had a very sympathetic client,” Sullivan said, on what he felt swayed the jury of four women and two men in his client’s favor. “Teresa was very sympathetic and straightforward and relatable.”

In a lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court, Brown alleged that over a period of three years her doctor, Jatinder S. Sekhon, failed to properly evaluate her gastrointestinal symptoms. A proper evaluation would have led to a colonoscopy and caught her colon cancer before it reached an advanced stage, the lawsuit states.

Sullivan said his client was “happy and she felt vindicated” after the jury verdict on Nov. 20.

From May 2013 to February 2016, Brown was seeing gastroenterologist Sekhon and her primary care physicians to treat her symptoms. At the end of February, Brown went to Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, complaining of abdominal pain. The hospital physicians performed a colonoscopy and found a large tumor in her colon. She was diagnosed with stage IIIB colon cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of less than 50 percent, the lawsuit states.

Brown, now 43, has since undergone chemotherapy and is being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her cancer returned earlier this year and spread to her liver, Sullivan said. Brown underwent another surgery to remove the cancer and portion of her liver a few days before trial. She is currently “disease-free” but under observation by her oncologist at Hopkins, said Sullivan, of Salsbury Sullivan, LLC in Baltimore.

Brown was working as an administrator at a children’s hospital up until six months before her cancer diagnosis, when she left because of fatigue. She’s had multiple jobs since then but has had to leave work for treatments, Sullivan said.

Larry D. McAfee, a lawyer for the defense, from Gleason, Flynn, Emig, Fogleman & McAfee, Chartered in Rockville, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Teresa Brown v. Jatinder S. Sekhon, M.D.        

Court: Montgomery County Circuit

Case No.: 435477-V

Judge:  Gary Bair

Proceeding: Jury trial

Outcome: Verdict for plaintiff.

Dates:

Incident: May 2013

Suit filed: Aug. 14, 2017

Verdict: Nov. 20, 2018

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Kevin P. Sullivan and Benjamin S. Salsbury of Salsbury Sullivan, LLC in Baltimore

Defendants’ Attorneys: Larry D. McAfee and Andrew R. Booth of Gleason, Flynn, Emig, Fogleman & McAfee, Chartered in Rockville

Counts: negligence

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