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Failed Liver Cancer Diagnosis Leads to Huge Award

The family of a man who died after a physician failed to diagnose his liver cancer has been awarded $7 million by a Sussex County Jury.

The malpractice lawsuit brought by the surviving family members of Glenn Garofano Sr. of Hardyston, was filed in Superior Court in Sussex County in 2012. Garofano died in 2011. The lawsuit named Advanced Imaging Associates and Dr. Clifford Barker as defendants in the case.

According to the attorney representing the family, Paul O’Connor, Garofano initially went to his primary care physician in April 2010 with complaints of abdominal pain. The doctor, Steven Braunstein, wanted Garofano’s gallbladder evaluated and ordered an ultrasound.

Advanced Imaging Associates performed the ultrasound and Barker issued a report indicating the gallbladder contained gallstones, sludge and debris and he also identified a “mass” in the liver, O’Connor said.

Braunstein then asked for a CT scan of the liver mass. The procedure was performed at Advanced Imaging and the results of the scan were interpreted by Dr. Barker. Barker “dictated a report in which he described cirrhosis of the liver,” but indicated that “no liver mass lesions could be identified.”

Garofano went to Newton Memorial Hospital in May of 2011 for treatment of possible Lyme disease. While in the hospital, an echocardiogram revealed a mass in the right atrium of Garofano’s heart, O’Connor said.

Garofano was then transferred to Morristown Medical Center to have the mass removed. Tests revealed that the mass was metastatic liver cancer. The mass was removed surgically, however, Garofano began to have organ and required ventilation, dialysis and a feeding tube.

Garofano was never to be discharged from the hospital, and died in July 2011 at the age of 63.

Garofano, according to his attorney, had suffered from a significant amount of emotional distress knowing the mass in the liver had been detected the previous year, but was allowed to grow and spread to his heart. The plaintiffs allege that Garofano’s premature death could have been prevented if the cancer had been addressed when it was first detected.

The Superior Court jury awarded $3.5 million for Garofano’s pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life; and an additional $3.5 million for his wife and family’s loss of his society, services and consortium.

It is possible for medical professionals such as doctors or surgeons to make a mistake. Those mistakes can cause changes to the lives of patients and their families in ways that are permanent and can change the quality of life. Having a lawyer who is both experienced in malpractice law and dedicated to the rights of patients and their families is essential.

At Bottar and Leone PLLC, our attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice and medical negligence law have years of experience. We are committed to protecting the rights of patients and see that they receive every dollar that their case is worth.

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice or negligence by a physician or other health professional, please contact us today. Our offices will schedule a free consultation and evaluation of your case.