Helene Blanchfield, the Laurel woman whose $800,000 medical malpractice award against a Silver Spring doctor was cut in half last week by a Prince George's County judge, decided yesterday to accept the lesser amount rather than go through another trial.
Blanchfiled won the lawsuit last month against Dr. Lewis H. Dennis, who she claimed has mistakely diagnosed her illness as terminal cancer. Lawyers for Dennis, meanwhile, said they were preparing to appeal the entire case to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.
In a letter to county Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin yesterday, Blanchfield said she would accept the reduced figure of $400,000, instead of the $800,000 she was originally awarded by a county Circuit Court jury. It was apparently the largest medical malpractice award in county history.
Judge Levin, saying he was "shocked" by the huge medical malpractice award, cut it in half last week, but offered Blanchfield the option of a new trial on the issue of the damages alone if she did not accept his reduction of the award.
In the letter to Levin, Blanchfield's attorney said that her "overall health dictates against the emotional trauma of subjecting herself to another trial on this matter."
The attorney, Marvin Ellin of Beltimore said it was with "great reluctance" that he accepted the reduced award for Blanchfield. At the hearing last week where Judge Levin announced the reduction, Ellin angrily contested his decision.
Blanchfield still yesterday that she wanted to avoid a new trail because everything. I'd like to forget everything."
The former county school bus driver said she had received numerous calls from cancer patients who sympathized with her. Blanchfield had testified at her trial about Dennis had administration unnecessary chemotherapy treatments that increased the probability that she might develop cancer. Blanchfield said she was ungry that Judge Levin had said when he reduced the award that she had not been permanently injured.
During the nine-day trail last month, Blanchfield testified that Dennis had told her she had a dreaded form of bone cancer and said she had only one month to a year to live.
After seeking a second opinion several months later, Blanchfield learned that she had no cancer and should not have received the cancer treatments.
Blanchfield said she had suffered physical side effects from the cancer treatments and emotional depression later after being told she would die. She quit her job was with the Prince George's County Board of Education, and mortgaged her house to pay her medical expenses.
At the trial, Dennis contended that the chemotherapy treatment he prescribed for Blanchfield had been minimal, and it was unlikely that the problems she endured were caused by the treatment.
In reducing the amount of the jury award against Dennis, Judge Levin stressed that he was not contesting the jury's finding that Dennis' diagnosis had been wrong.
Lawyers for Dennis said yesterday that they would ask that the $400,000 award, and the finding of liability against Dennis, be reversed in his appeal. a
Dennis reached yesterday, had no comment on the appeal.