Brian Burge & Stacey Dowd Win Case for Emergency Room Physician
Brian Burge and Stacey Dowd recently assisted in the successful defense of an emergency room physician alleged to have negligently evaluated a patient later found to have Stage IV colon cancer. A seven-day jury trial was held in St. Charles County, Missouri. Plaintiffs were the widow and five adopted children of decedent, who passed away from cancer in September of 2017. Plaintiffs asked the jury to award $8.5 million in damages based on the physician’s purported failure to properly examine and refer the patient after an incidental finding was noted on a CT study suggesting the possibility of a life-threatening condition. Defendants included the ER physician and a medical staffing service. Defendants argued at trial that the decedent had initially presented to the ER with a routine complaint (kidney stone), that he had no other concerning signs or symptoms suggestive of an underlying problem, that appropriate instructions were given to the decedent regarding follow-up on the incidental finding and that no reasonable physician would have suspected cancer at the time. After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants and awarded no damages to the plaintiffs. The case represents one of the first civil jury trials conducted in Missouri in the wake of the Covid pandemic.