Cook County Jury Finds for Oncologist Where Chemotherapy Drug was Blamed for Heart Failure

A Cook County jury signed a verdict after answering a special interrogatory in this medical malpractice case related to the prescription of a drug Adriamycin, which is given to cancer patients for chemotherapy and is known to cause heart damage as one of its risks.

The special interrogatory given to the jury was: “Do you find that the conduct of Dr. Weyburn (the oncologist), as set forth in the (jury) instructions was negligent and that such negligence was a proximate cause of Beata Gorgon’s injuries?”  The answer given by this jury was “No.”

Beata Gorgon, 44, presented to the defendant Dr. Thomas Weyburn, an oncologist, in August 2008 for treatment of Stage 3 breast cancer. Dr. Weyburn prescribed Adriamycin for the chemotherapy regimen. Dr. Weyburn contended in this lawsuit that he ordered an echocardiogram for Gorgon prior to the start of the delivery of the Adriamycin and then elected to start giving the drug before she underwent the test.

In this lawsuit, Gorgon denied she ever received the order for the echocardiogram that the doctor contended he ordered. She  subsequently developed signs and symptoms of cardiotoxicity over the next few months, including shortness of breath, tachycardia and a syncopal episode, eventually leading to permanent heart failure.

Gorgon maintained that Dr. Weyburn chose not to diagnose a subclinical or underlying cardiomyopathy and also failed to order cardiac testing (an echocardiogram) and a cardiology consultation, both initially and after she developed the cardiotoxicity symptoms.

Gorgon’s lawsuit claimed that the Adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity caused her to suffer permanent cardiomyopathy, severe mitral regurgitation, a permanent pacemaker, dependence on a wheelchair, the need for a future heart transplant surgery and a decreased life expectancy of just 10 years.

Gorgon’s husband, Greg Gorgon, claimed loss of consortium.

The defendant Dr. Weyburn and his practice argued that the performance of an echocardiogram prior to the delivery of Adriamycin is not required by the standard of care.  The defendants also maintained that the subsequent symptoms that Ms. Gorgon exhibited were non-specific and consistent with any patient receiving chemotherapy.  Further, Gorgon did not manifest any objective symptom of cardiomyopathy until 2009 at which time the echocardiogram was ordered and a diagnosis was then made.

Before trial the demand to settle the case was $4 million. There was no offer to settle by the defense. The jury was asked to return a verdict of $21 million. At trial, Gorgon’s case included the testimony of her internist and oncologist as well as experts who testified on her behalf in oncology and cardiology. The defendants presented experts in oncology and cardiology. Unfortunately, the jury returned its verdict in line with the answer it gave to the special interrogatory in favor of the doctor and his practice, finding no negligence for the cause Gorgon’s medical problems.

Beata Gorgon, et al. v. North Shore Oncology-Hematology Associates, Ltd. and Dr. Thomas Weyburn, No. 10 L 124218.  

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence cases, wrongful death cases, physician negligence cases and hospital negligence cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Homewood, Highwood, Flossmoor, Arlington Heights, Inverness, Lisle, Lake Forest, University Park, River Grove, Evanston, Skokie, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Barrington, South Barrington, Chicago Heights, South Holland and Highland Park, Ill.

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