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Yale Medical School and Gynecologist on Wrong End of $5.2 Million Medical Malpractice Verdict

Nov 16, 2005 | After several years of legal wrangling, Michelle DiLieto has been awarded $5.2 million by a Connecticut jury against Yale School of Medicine and her gynecologist, Dr. Scott Casper.

In 1995, DiLieto was diagnosed with a form of uterine cancer known as endometrial stromal sarcoma, a rare but often fatal cancer. Her gynecologist suggested that she see Dr. Peter Schwartz, a professor at the School of Medicine practicing at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Although a Yale pathology report confirmed the diagnosis, a 1997 Harvard pathologist report determined that DiLieto never had cancer. Plaintiff’s medical experts, however, testified that tissue samples, released by a court order in November 2004, showed no indication of cancer.

According to DiLieto's attorney, his client underwent surgery during which Dr. Casper removed her uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes. Dr, Schwartz was supposed to extract the surrounding lymph nodes, but delegated that operation to Dr. Babak Edraki, a first-year fellow in gynecologic oncology.

DiLieto’s experts also believe Yale knew all along that she didn't have cancer.  

As a result of the surgery, DiLieto reports she suffered substantial nerve damage and was in terrible pain and unable to walk for months. The doctors attributed the pain not to the surgery but to the fact that she could not take estrogen as hormone replacement therapy for menopause because she was a "cancer survivor," she said. "They were all very arrogant with regard to me," she added.

Although the jury in the recent trial found no negligence on the part of the Yale pathologists, they found in favor of DiLieto for $2.5 million against Yale and $2.7 million against Dr.Casper’s practice at the County Obstetrics and Gynecology Group in Connecticut.

The verdict in plaintiff’s favor follows a long legal battle wherein a jury originally found in favor of Yale in 2000. That verdict was reversed on appeal in 2003 by the Connecticut Supreme Court. According to a hospital spokesman, Yale intends to appeal the verdict.

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