Jury: Alabaster medical office must pay $3 million in malpractice suit

BIRMINGHAM – A Shelby County jury recently ruled against a health care facility in Alabaster during a civil lawsuit involving medical malpractice. According to court documents, pulmonologist Manuel Carcelen of Pulmonary Medicine Associates, P.C. was found on Jan. 22 to be responsible for failing to diagnose lung cancer several years ago.

According to a complaint filed by the plaintiffs in 2011, Carcelen failed to note abnormalities in two CAT scans performed on Alabaster resident Burt Williams’s chest and lungs.

Williams underwent the first CAT scan in February 2008 when he was hospitalized for pneumonia. The complaint stated that the radiologists who reviewed the scans noted abnormalities that were ignored by Carcelen.

According to the complaint, radiologists who reviewed the second CAT scan in April 2008 noted abnormalities again, particularly in the left lung. Radiologists addressed the possibility of lung cancer and suggested a follow-up visit to Williams. During the follow-up appointment, Carcelen discharged Williams from further care and treatment.

In November 2010, Williams underwent a third CAT scan that revealed his metastatic lung cancer. He died on July 15, 2011, as the result of the cancer.

In the complaint, plaintiffs asserted that Carcelen’s negligence resulted in a delay in Williams’s diagnosis and treatment, which ultimately caused the cancer to spread to other parts of his body and advance to an incurable stage.

“Plaintiff avers that the delay in diagnosis and treatment…caused, allowed or permitted his cancer to metastatically spread from the left lung to both lungs, his bones, ribs, hips and liver,” the complaint read. “Although he is undergoing aggressive treatment, his cancer is too far advanced for any surgical resection, and furthermore, is terminal.”

The trial lasted a week. The jury ultimately ruled in favor of the plaintiff, who was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages. According to the law firm, this is the largest medical malpractice verdict rendered in Shelby County.

“This case shows a blatant disregard for the minimum standard of care from Dr. Carcelen. If this physician would have simply erred on the side of caution and patient safety, this cancer could have been treated. Instead, we have a widow who is grieving for her husband of 51 years,” said attorney Shay Samples, who served as lead counsel in the case.

As of Wednesday, Jan. 24, multiple messages left with Pulmonary Medicine Associates, P.C. had not been returned.