The Silver Spring doctor who lost a $800,000 malpractice suit last week to a woman who claimed he had mistakenly diagnosed her illness as terminal cancer has asked a Prince George's County judge to reduce the award or hold a new trail.
Lawyers for Dr. Lewis H. Dennis filed court motions Monday describing the award to Laurel resident Helena E. Blanchfield as "excessive and grossly disproportionate to the injury suffered as to shock the conscience of the court."
Court officials said the medical malpractice award by the jury after the nine-day trail, which ended last Wednesday, was the largest in Prince George's County history.
During the trail, Blanchfield testified that Dr. Dennis had told her that she had a dreaded form of bone cancer and said she had only one month to a year to live.
Blanchfield testified that Dennis administered chemotherapy treatments, but after she sought a second opinion several months later, she learned that she had no cancer, and should not have received the cancer treatments.
Blanchfield said she has suffered physical side effects from the cancer treatments, and emotional depression later after being told she would die. She quit he job with the Prince George's County Board of Education, and mortgaged her house to pay her medical expenses.
In his motion, Dr. Dennis' lawyers said the jury's verdict in favor of Blanchfield was based on "passion, prejudice or partiality on the part of the jury."
At the trail, Dennis contended that the chemotherapy treatment he prescribed for Blanchfield had been minimal -- about 35 days -- and it was unlikely that the problems Blanchfield endured were caused by the treatment.
Medical experts testified that as a result of the cancer treatments, Blanchfield is more likely to contract cancer in the future than is the average person. Experts testifying on behalf of Dennis disputed this, saying there was no way anyone could determine how susceptible in the future Blanchfield would be to cancer.
A hearing was set for early February before Judge Jacob S. Levin, who presided over the original trail.