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$7.5 million awarded in Spotsylvania

A Spotsylvania County Circuit Court jury awarded $7.5 million Friday to the family of a woman who died from breast cancer.

William E. Artz of Arlington, the attorney for the family, contended that a family practitioner and a nurse practitioner were negligent in failing to determine the reason for a lump in the woman’s breast after a mammogram was negative in May 2003.

The lump had increased in size and was malignant when Eleanor Browder returned to Dr. Donna J. Gamache seven months later.

The disease was in remission for about two years after surgery but recurred and caused her death in April 2008 at age 57.

The defendants contended that the “lump” in 2003 was in fact a breast thickening, so that no further analysis was required, and that the cancer was so aggressive that a delay of seven months would have made no difference.

The award included $212,000 in medical bills, $785,000 for lost income and $6.5 million for solace to Browder’s husband of 27 years.

A dispute remains about whether the cap on medical malpractice awards should be based on the date of the mammogram or Browder’s death. The figures are $1.65 million and $1.925 million.

By Alan Cooper

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