Columbia lawyers win $6.9 million verdict for breast cancer patient in claimed misdiagnosis in Charleston

A Charleston jury has returned a $6.9 million verdict in the medical malpractice case of a former Air Force flight nurse who claimed her radiologist misread a mammogram, according to court records.

The woman, Leanna Loud, 47, has a fatal case of breast cancer and is only expected to live another two or three years, according to evidence at the trial. She is in the U.S. Air Force reserve and currently working as a nurse at a Charleston hospital.

Her husband, William, was also a plaintiff. The Louds have two school-age children.

The jury earmarked $6.2 million for her and $700,000 for her husband for loss of consortium.

The defendants were Dr. Jeffrey Short and Charleston Radiologists. They asserted they were adhering to normal standards of medical care and acting in good faith.

According to a complaint in the case, a mammogram taken at East Cooper Hospital in 2008 showed an abnormality in one of Loud’s breasts but was read by Short as not being in need of immediate follow-up. During the trial, she and her lawyers contended the abnormality was such that it was suspicious for cancer and should have been followed up immediately.

Loud was given a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2010, according to evidence in the trial.

If immediate treatment had been given, Loud had an 80-100 percent chance of being cured, according to expert testimony.

Charleston, home of the Medical University of South Carolina, the state’s major medical school, is not known for favorable verdicts to plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The plaintiff’s lawyers in the case were John Eric Fulda, Charles Whetstone and Cheryl Perkins, all of Columbia, and David Savage, of Charleston.

Lawyers representing the doctor and his practice were Molly Craig and Brian Johnson of the Hood Law Firm of Charleston. Neither Craig nor Johnson responded to a request for comment. No one at Charleston Radiologists, including Dr. Short, could be reached for comment.

“This case was about accountability and responsibility, and in this case, a big mistake was made,” Fulda said. “Suing a doctor is not a easy or certainly not popular, especially in Charleston. But when people won’t accept responsibility, you go to the court system. Twelve jurors understood that.”

State Judge Roger Young presided.