Judge rejects plea to amend $15M radiology medical malpractice suit award

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An Indiana jury’s medical malpractice verdict of $15 million awarded to a woman in June will stay, after her stage 4 rectal cancer went undetected on a CT scan. The defendant, the Center for Diagnostic Imaging of Carmel (CDI), was denied a reduction or amendment to the original judgement by Southern District of Indiana Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson.

CDI argued the jury’s award was “monstrously excessive,” and requested a reduction in damages.

In 2014, Michael Walked, MD, a radiologist who was independently contracted with CDI, was found to have missed a tumor on plaintiff Courtney Webster’s CT scan. The tumor went undetected for 17 months, when Webster was diagnosed with stage 4 rectal can

 After Webster filed a malpractice suit, CDI said the radiologist was an independent contractor and not subject to CDI’s control. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, citing that CDI was legally liable for the radiologist’s conduct.

Following the verdict, CDI filed two motions— one to amend the judgment and another for a new trial. In her 30-page opinion, Magnus-Stinson rejected both motions.

 “This court emphasizes that it will not rewrite Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act to afford protection to individuals or entities who are not qualified health care providers under the Act and who did not pay into the Patient’s Compensation Fund,” Magnus-Stinson wrote in her opinion. “Therefore, the court declines to apply the damages caps set forth in the act to CDI.”

Magnus-Stinson also addressed CDI’s claim that the jury’s award is “monstrously excessive.”

“This court cannot and does not find that awards of $14 [million] and $1 [million] respectively for the loss of 36.2 years of life expectancy and consortium of a formerly vibrant, competent and engaged wife, mother and professional woman is excessive in the least,” she concluded.