Wilke Fleury Wins Defense Verdict In Medical Malpractice Case

In a three week jury trial involving allegations of medical malpractice, a family practice specialist employed by the Regents of the University of California was successfully defended by Wilke Fleury. The case involved the death of a young man from an aggressive malignant melanoma. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the patient’s son, who was born four months after his father died of his skin cancer. In a case that abounded with sympathy, Wilke Fleury Partner Scott Gassaway was successful in presenting a scientific and medically-based defense. The claim was largely based on a theory that an uncommon type of benign mole (a “halo nevus”) has a known but very, very uncommon association with a contemporaneously growing malignant melanoma somewhere else on the body. Plaintiff’s theory was that if a physician sees an admittedly benign halo nevus on one part of the body, the physician must rule out malignant melanoma elsewhere on the body. Plaintiff unsuccessfully argued that the presence of the uncommon mole required a full body skin and mucous membrane examination. The defense experts testified that the standard of care for a family practice physician does not require such measures given the extremely small statistical likelihood of discovering a malignant melanoma on a patient with a benign halo nevus. The jury unanimously found that the physician met the standard of care.