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$1.1 Million Awarded In Malpractice Lawsuit

May 24, 2004 | Duluth News Tribune

A jury has awarded$1.1 million to a Grand Rapids couple who claim a Hibbing doctor failed to diagnose prostate cancer in May 2001.

Thomas L. Fritz, 61, a retired Cargill Inc. executive, and his wife, Pamela Fritz, received the unanimous verdict Friday morning in Minnesota District Court, Hibbing.

The seven-person jury found that Jack B. Greene, a St. Luke's family practice physician, failed to adequately care for Thomas Fritz after a routine exam revealed a slight risk of prostate cancer. CharlesBateman, Greene's attorney, plans to challenge the verdict. Bateman will ask a judge to reverse the jury's decision.

"We cannot comment on an ongoing legal matter," said Mary Greene, St. Luke's spokeswoman.

The verdict awarded Fritz $900,000 and his wife, Pamela Fritz, $600,000. However, the jury did not hold Fritz entirely blameless, which reduced their award by 25 percent.

In 2001, a routine exam found Fritz had slightly elevated levels of a prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. As PSA levels climb, so does the risk of cancer.

However, Fritz did not learn of his high PSA until June 2002, when tests revealed sharply higher levels of the antigen, said his attorney.

"I fell through the cracks," said Fritz, whose prostate cancer spread to his bones. He now travels to Mexico and Texas for treatment. "It's not fair and it shouldn't happen to anyone else."


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