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$2.7 Million Awarded to Woman Whose Cancer-Free Breast Was Removed

April 20, 1994 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Four doctors were ordered to pay $2.7 million to a woman whose left breast was removed because of a cancer misdiagnosis that was discovered before the operation.

″I’m glad this part of the nightmare is over,″ the woman, Elizabeth England, said after the jury’s verdict Tuesday.

Ms. England’s breast was removed in 1992 after an incorrect lab diagnosis. The error was found two weeks before Ms. England’s mastectomy, but no one notified her or the surgeon. The breast was found to be cancer-free after its removal.

″This was a communication meltdown, and the victim was Beth England,″ argued one of her attorneys, Rodney S. Margol.

All four doctors involved in the case were found negligent: the surgeon, Dr. Curtis Phillips; Ms. England’s original surgeon, Dr. J. Robert Benson, who learned of the misdiagnosis before the mastectomy but did not notify her; Dr. Edward Chopskie, a pathologist who discovered the mistake and notified Benson; and Dr. George Katibah, who misread a tissue sample.

During the trial, attorneys for the physicians blamed the other doctors.

Ms. England had sought $5.4 million to $9.3 million.

The doctors and their lawyers would not comment on the verdict.