Home Medical Malpractice Chester County woman, 22, wins $18 million jury verdict in breast cancer malpractice case

Chester County woman, 22, wins $18 million jury verdict in breast cancer malpractice case

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WEST CHESTER — Four years ago, Kerri Downes, 22 at the time, was concerned when she discovered a lump in her right breast. She went to a nurse practitioner on March 29, 2018, and was told it was benign and there was nothing to be worried about.

Extensive tests were not done, as breast cancer in young women is extremely rare. An ultrasound, which may have discovered cancer, was not ordered.

Over the course of the next nine months, the lump in her breast grew from the size of a grape to even larger. She developed a burning and tingling sensation in her right breast and underarm area.

Alarmed, she went back to the same practice in December of 2018, but this time saw a physician, who discovered a palpable mass the size of a golf ball in her right breast. An ultrasound was performed, and medical professionals determined she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.

At the time of pathology, Downes, who lives in Phoenixville, had the cancerous mass removed, but it had spread into three of her lymph nodes. The mass had grown from 1.5 centimeters in March of 2018 to 4 centimeters by the end of the year.

On Friday, Downes was awarded an $18 million jury verdict in Chester County in a medical malpractice case that centered around a nurse practitioner failing to diagnose and timely treat her breast cancer.

The verdict was reached Friday after a two-week trial before Chester County Common Please Court Judge Edward Griffith.

“Health care providers need to listen to their patients. even when it involves a younger person,” said Matt Casey, a founding partner of Ross Feller Casey in Philadelphia who litigated the case. “The cancer invaded her lymph nodes which reduced her chances of being able to live a longer life.

Casey said that had Downes been given proper medical care when she sought medical help, her cancer would have been nipped in the bud in the very early stage, which is easily treatable.

Instead, due to the delay in treating the disease, Downes, now 26, has suffered the consequences of the local spread of her disease.

“She lost a significant amount in terms of life expectancy over the next 10 to 15 years, and that’s what this case is about,” Casey said.

Downes is an experienced registered nurse providing emergency care at a Level II trauma center. She is a graduate of Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program and worked at Wegman’s Market as a pharmacy technician from 2012 to 2018.

She is a graduate of Immaculata University’s nursing program. She plans to continue working.

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