The Connecticut Supreme Court upheld a $4 million jury verdict in favor of a woman who alleged medical malpractice against her OB/GYN. According to the court’s ruling in Downs v. Trias, the plaintiff’s family has a lengthy history of breast cancer on her mother’s side of the family. Her mother, grandmother, and two aunts all died from it. As a preventive measure, the plaintiff had a bilateral mastectomy in 1981, at the age of 22. She had an elective partial hysterectomy in 2005 due to a noncancerous fibroid condition. The defendant performed the 2005 procedure, which involved removing the uterus, but not the ovaries or cervix. He had treated the plaintiff for the previous twenty years.
Prior to the hysterectomy, the defendant informed the plaintiff that her ovaries were healthy, and that her family history of breast cancer, based on the information available, did not indicate a heightened risk of ovarian cancer. He noted that she could choose to have supplemental genetic testing to assess her risk for ovarian cancer, but she did not do so at the time. Roughly one year after the hysterectomy, the plaintiff was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer that spread into her abdomen. She maintained that she would not have developed the cancer if her physician had removed her ovaries during the hysterectomy.