“Maryland Jury Awards Record $3M in Medical Malpractice Suit”

Medical Malpractice Lawyer | The Banks Firm

“A Wicomico County jury returned a $3.38 million verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit, marking the largest verdict of its kind in the county’s history, attorneys said.

A six-person jury before the Wicomico County Circuit Court returned a unanimous verdict last week in favor of Mary and Timothy Raver against Peter Libby M.D. and Peninsula Radiological Associates for Libby and Peninsula’s alleged failure to appropriately evaluate, treat and report Mary Raver’s condition — one that ultimately progressed from stage I cancer to terminal stage IV cancer.

The judgment, entered by Judge Mathew A. Maciarello, will be reduced by approximately $300,000 because of Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages.

The jury found Libby and Peninsula Radiological Associates breached the standard of care owed to Raver when Libby, as employee of Peninsula, reported that Raver’s neck CT scan showed no significant abnormality of her salivary glands despite radiology revealing an eight-millimeter thickening of her right salivary gland.

According to the complaint, Raver first noticed a small lump in front of her right ear in early March 2021. After consulting her primary care provider and a specialist, Raver received a contrast-enhanced soft tissue neck CT at Peninsula.

Libby classified the scan’s results as a “normal variant” and did not recommend further testing or treatment.

In July 2021, Raver again saw a specialist because she noticed the mass on her neck had grown larger. After testing, another doctor recommended Raver undergo surgery to remove the mass.

By the time of Raver’s surgery in January 2022, the mass had grown more than five centimeters, and pathology showed Raver had stage IV cancer that had metastasized in her bones and liver, the complaint said.

The mass had also wrapped around Raver’s facial nerve, and she suffered substantial nerve damages because of the surgery, the complaint alleged.

The complaint alleged negligence as to Libby and Peninsula, as well as a loss of consortium.

Counsel for Libby and Peninsula Radiological Associates did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

Damien Banks, co-counsel for the Ravers, said the jury verdict achieved justice for the Ravers.

“I couldn’t be happier for my client given everything that they have gone through and are still facing due to the negligence in this case,” Banks said. “Mrs. Raver would have been cancer-free today except for the negligence of Dr. Libby.”

John Phoebus, who also represented the Ravers, said that while it can be difficult for jurors — who typically trust doctors — to “take that step” and find a doctor breached the standard of care, the jury did just that.

“There was no question that Mary Raver is dying of cancer and she has now two, three years left to live according to some experts in terms of life expectancy,” Phoebus said. “Arguably, it’s worth literally every penny that the jury decided to give her.”

Phoebus said insurers often discount the value of medical malpractice cases in rural areas because of the myth that rural juries will not give a claim its “full value.”

“Verdicts like this help send the messages that injured parties can in fact get full justice and recovery from their injuries, even in rural jurisdictions,” Phoebus said. “Hopefully going forward, we will not continue to see medical malpractice insurers undervalue cases based upon the address of the courthouse.”

Banks said he’s hopeful that health care practitioners take better care of patients as a result of this case.

Phoebus said doctors should “err on the side of ordering the next test” and spend more time to help prevent instances such as Raver’s occurring in the future.

In the meantime, Banks said abolishing or significantly raising Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages would also help future patient care and better hold physicians and health systems accountable.

“Nothing’s ever going to be the same for them,” Banks said of the Raver family. “Money can’t change that, but it can help ease the suffering somewhat.”

Megan A. Cahill of The Banks Firm, LLC also represented Mary and Timothy Raver.”

Maryland jury awards record $3M in medical malpractice suit

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