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DeKalb jury awards $3 million in medical malpractice case

A DeKalb County jury has returned a $3 million verdict in a case involving a 64-year-old woman who died shortly after what her lawyers said was a routine surgical procedure.

The verdict was awarded to Johnny Davis, the surviving spouse of Brenda Davis, who died Sept. 12, 2009, two days after her surgery at DeKalb Medical Center.

Brenda Davis, of Monroe, went into surgery to have an ovarian cyst removed, but during the procedure her bowel was pierced, her lawyers said.

The gynecological surgeon failed to adequately inspect Davis' bowel for cuts -- a danger of this surgery -- and then mishandled her complaints after the procedure, Davis' lawyers said.

"It has been a long journey, but the Davis family remained strong throughout the ups and downs of the litigation," said Geoff Pope, one of the family's lawyers.

The verdict was returned against Dr. Stuart Pancer and Perimeter Ob/Gyn Care.

The doctor's lawyer, Dan Huff, expressed disappointment with the verdict.

"Dr. Pancer is a fine physician who provides excellent care to all of his patients," Huff said. "While reasonable doctors make recommendations and decisions based on the information they have at the time, hindsight bias is hard for all jurors to overcome."

Huff said that, after the trial, jurors told him they thought Dr. Pancer performed the surgery properly and safely. But the jurors felt the doctor should have told Brenda Davis and her husband to come to the emergency room more urgently when she began belching after the surgery, he said.

Two board-certified OB/GYNs testified that Dr. Pancer met the standard of care throughout the surgery and afterwards, Huff added. "Ms. Davis’s unexpected death was a tragedy and our hearts continue to go out to the Davis family for their loss."

Jurors declined to find fault with other defendants in the case, Dr. Rachel Nisbet and Gwinnett Pulmonary Group. The trial was held in DeKalb County State Court.

Marc Howard, another lawyer representing the Davis family, said the legal team was glad to obtain "some measure of justice" for the family after their loss. "This was a tragic case of a patient who should have been able to continue to live a long and happy life after a minimally invasive procedure, but her life was cut short due to a number of medical errors," he said.




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Bill Rankin covers criminal justice for the Enterprise team.