Woman Wins Suit Over Doctor Missing Breast Cancer

December 04, 1990|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

A jury has awarded nearly $1 million to a 40-year-old Arnold woman who said she is dying of breast cancer because a well-known Annapolis gynecologist failed to diagnose her disease in time.

But the woman's lawyer said she will probably die before she ever sees a penny of the $911,682 award won in a malpractice suit that ended Friday in county Circuit Court.

"She never did it for the money in the first place," said Steven M.

Nemeroff, attorney for Glenna M. Endal. "She's not going to buy a new car or move or anything.

Nemeroff said Endal, a mother of three, has only a 1-in-4 chance of living to see 1993. He predicted lawyers for Dr. Michael B. Monias will appeal the jury's ruling -- and thus postpone payment of the damages.

William A. Ehrmantraut, attorney for Monias, refused to comment on the verdict or any appeal. Endal could not be reached for comment.

The jury returned its verdict in favor of Endal at about 7 p.m. Friday after more than five hours of deliberations. During a 2 -week trial, testimony for the plaintiffs showed Monias was negligent in failing to order tests immediately for a lump Endal found in her right breast in late July or early August 1986.

The German-educated gynecologist, who has been practicing in Annapolis for three decades, told Endal not to worry about the lump because it was probably a sign of fibrocystic breast disease and not cancer, testimony showed. The woman said she underwent a mammogram but assumed it was normal because she never heard from the doctor.

But the woman's breast began discharging, and recognizing that as a cancer warning sign, she went back to the doctor. A biopsy taken in October 1987 -- 14 months after the first visit to Monias -- showed advanced breast cancer.

The woman underwent a lumpectomy, a mastectomy and chemotherapy, but doctors have given her only a 25 percent chance of surviving more than five years after her diagnosis in October 1987.

Nemeroff said the woman, at times, had to leave the courtroom while experts said her chances of survival would have been 95 percent had she been diagnosed earlier.

"My whole life has been hindered as a result of Dr. Monias' negligence," the woman said in court. "I live every moment of my life in fear that I will die and my children will lose their mother. I cry when I look in the mirror at what has been done to my body."

The defense contended that during the woman's initial visits to Monias, the gynecologist felt no lump in her breast.

When the jury verdict was announced, Endal collapsed in the courtroom, Nemeroff said, adding that some of the jurors then hugged the woman.

The lawyer said Endal hopes the money can be used for medical bills and to pay for college for her three children, who range in age from 9 to 13.

He said Endal and her 42-year-old husband, Andrew S. Endal, adopted abused children who had been in foster homes.

The lawyer said Endal has been in therapy as she grapples with the disillusionment stemming from being disappointed by a doctor she had come to trust since moving to Annapolis in 1983.

"She loved him. He was like a father to her," Nemeroff said.

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