Jury Awards $21 Million Verdict For Wrongful Death Caused By Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis
Case Summary: Medical Malpractice: Cervical Cancer Misdiagnosis
Wisekal v. LabCorp
The pursuit for justice was wrought with injustice for the family of Darien Wisekal, a 37-year-old wife and mother, who passed away due to a misdiagnosed Pap smear on November 30, 2011. Darien Wisekal died of cervical cancer after the lab failed to detect and diagnose the presence of cancerous cells in her Pap smear test.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed on July 30, 2012 sought damages for her surviving husband and two young daughters whose lives were irrevocably changed by a tragic medical misdiagnosis. Sean Domnick, a Palm Beach Gardens attorney with extensive experience litigating cases of medical malpractice and medical misdiagnosis represented the family in their lawsuit against LabCorp.
A nine-person Jury heard the case in West Palm Beach Federal Court, and after almost two weeks of trial, returned a $21 million verdict in favor of the Wisekal family, determining that LabCorp had negligently failed to diagnose cancerous cells taken in a Pap smear test. The award included $7.5 million dollars in pain and suffering money for each of the two young daughters and $5 million for the surviving husband. The verdict was applauded with a #1 ranking on the Jury Verdict Round-Up “Top Medical Malpractice Verdicts of 2014” and the Daily Business Review “Verdicts Hall of Fame” Award in 2015. It is the largest verdict against the Pap Smear industry.
In an extraordinary turn of events, presiding U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley said the $21 million award for human damages was “excessive and unreasonable in relationship to the amount of damages proved and was not logically supported by the evidence presented.” In his order, the Judge stated that the “jury could only have reached its total $20 million non-economic damage award through speculation or conjecture, or consideration of improper elements of damage” and slashed the verdict to $4.4 million.
The plaintiff either had to accept the remittitur or proceed to a second trial on damages, as a remittitur order is a non-final, non-appealable order in Federal court. The client refused and, in challenge to Judge Hurley’s order, chose to reject the remittitur. On the eve of the second jury trial the parties reached a confidential settlement agreement. In yet another highly unconventional order, the Judge denied approval of the proposed settlement two more times before finally accepting an agreement.
Almost 6 years had passed since Darien Wisekal died from a golf ball sized tumor on her cervix, that could have been prevented, had LabCorp detected the presence of abnormalities in her Pap smear results. The Wisekal family not only lost a beloved mother and wife, but they lost their access to justice and the seventh amendment when the degree of their pain and suffering was reduced by a Federal Judge.
Sean Domnick dedicated four years to resolve this case and after countless legal battles finally negotiated a settlement agreement that was acceptable for the Court and got justice for the Wisekal family.
This precedent-setting case faced many seemingly insurmountable hurdles and only through the tenacity and unwavering determination of the Wisekal family and their attorney Sean Domnick was this case drawn to a successful conclusion.