Pathologist Missed Cancer in Brain Tissue Leading to Patient Death and $1.7 Million Illinois Jury Verdict

On March 21, 2007, Daniel Gapinski underwent neurosurgery at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill. The surgery was for resection of the brain mass in the pituitary area. The defendant, Dr. Neena Gujrati, was the pathologist who interpreted the tissue specimens. Dr. Gujrati concluded that the tissue specimen were benign meningioma, a tumor usually found in the membrane lining of the brain just inside of the skull or on the spinal cord. These tumors are usually slow growing and are 90% of the time found to be benign.

Gapinski, who was then age 42, received small doses of radiation in an attempt to debulk the benign tumor. He was able to return to work as a heavy equipment operator for 2 years working up to 14 hours per day. However, in late 2008, Gapinski began experiencing symptoms similar to those he experienced in 2007 before his surgery. Gapinski returned to St. Francis Medical Center and also went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for a second opinion. He eventually underwent a two-phase neurosurgery procedure in 2009 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The pathology from that surgery was read as renal cell carcinoma, indicating the presence of a kidney cancer that had metastasized to the brain.

Gapinski and his wife decided to return to Illinois for treatment at the University of Chicago Hospital. At the time of the transfer of his care to the University of Chicago, all of his medical records, including the original 2007 pathology slides prepared by Dr. Gujrati were evaluated. A pathologist at the University of Chicago diagnosed the tissues from 2007 as being consistent with renal cell carcinoma.

In this lawsuit, the plaintiffs, the Estate of Daniel W. Gapinski and his wife, Rebecca, claimed that Dr. Gujrati’s incorrect pathology interpretation and misdiagnoses caused Daniel to go 2 years without timely targeted treatment for his renal cancer. Daniel died of cancer at age 49 in May 2014 survived by his wife and two sons. He was earning $30 per hour as a heavy equipment operator.

His treating oncologist testified at trial that if the slides had been interpreted correctly at the time of the original surgery in 2007, Daniel would have received targeted therapy for his cancerous condition, thereby providing him with an opportunity for life-term survival with a good quality of life, if not a potential for cure.

The defendant contended that even if the slides had been interpreted correctly, the patient had a “death sentence” due to his Stage IV renal cancer.

The jury’s verdict of $1,727,410 was made up of the following damages:

For the survival action (Daniel’s conscious pain and suffering):

• $250,000 for pain and suffering experienced
• $225,00 for loss of normal life;
• $252,410 for medical expenses;
• $300,000 for lost earnings; and
• $50,000 for loss of consortium for Mr. Gapinski’s wife, Rebecca.

As to the wrongful death count of the plaintiff’s complaint:

• $200,000 for loss of money, benefits and services;
• $200,000 for loss of society; and
• $250,000 for grief and sorrow.

The attorneys representing the family of Daniel Gapinski and Rebecca Gapinski were Anthony C. Raccuglia and James A. McPhedran.

The demand to settle the case before trial made by the family’s attorney was $3 million. There were no offers to settle the case before trial by the defendant Dr. Gujrati.

At trial, the treating oncologist and neurosurgeon for Daniel Gapinski testified along with experts in neuropathology, urology, neurosurgery and radiation oncology.

On behalf of the defendant Dr. Gujrati expert witnesses who testified at trial were in the fields of neuropathology, radiation oncology and oncology.

Estate of Daniel W. Gapinski, et al. v. Dr. Neena Gujrati, Central Illinois Pathology, S.C., No. 11 L 27 (LaSalle County, Ill.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical malpractice lawsuits, misdiagnosed cancer lawsuits, birth injury cases and nursing home negligence and abuse 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 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Naperville, Wheaton, Rosemont, Maywood, River Grove, Elmwood Park, Berkeley, Elmhurst, Elk Grove Village, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Prospect Heights, Blue Island, Harvey, Worth, Orland Park, Chicago (Midway, Marquette Park, Washington Heights, Jackson Park, South Shore, East Side, Pill Hill, South Deering, Woodlawn, Canaryville, Chinatown, West Town, Garfield Park, Logan Square, Irving Park, Albany Park), Schiller Park and Schaumburg, Ill.

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