(April 25, 2008) When attorney Malcolm P. McConnell and his client were faced with an unjust law in 1998, he stepped up and took action to change the law and protect future victims of negligent medical misdiagnosis. On April 28, 2008 Governor Tim Kaine will sign that bill into law.
In 1998, at 42 years old, Mrs. Jones had a hysterectomy. The doctor who examined her uterus for signs of cancer reported that no cancer was present. Because he was told she had no cancer, Mrs. Jones’ personal physician prescribed hormone replacement therapy (estrogen) for her and she took it as prescribed for five years. In 2003, Mrs. Jones was diagnosed with “recurrent uterine cancer.” Her doctor obtained the pathology slides from the 1998 surgery and had them reviewed by a new doctor, who stated that the original review had been wrong. Mrs. Jones’ uterus had contained cancer. As a result of that error, Mrs. Jones’ estrogen pills had, in essence, been “feeding” her cancer for five years. Whereas a proper diagnosis in 1998 would have saved her life, she spent five years getting sicker and sicker. Mrs. Jones passed away in 2004.
Prior to her death, Mrs. Jones and her husband consulted Malcolm McConnell and the Medical Malpractice Team at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. The doctor who examined Mrs. Jones’ uterus in 1998 had been negligent. Because of his negligence, her cancer was allowed to spread until it was impossible to save her life. Mr. McConnell investigated the case thoroughly and consulted several experts on uterine cancer, but was ultimately forced to abandon the case. Why?Because, due to an unfair law in Virginia, Mrs. Jones’ time period for suing the negligent doctor expired before she even knew she was sick. Virginia has a two year “statute of limitations.” After the lapse of the two years, the right to sue is gone. Mrs. Jones’ two year period began to run when her cancer began to spread. Of course, she was unaware of that spread until five years later, long after her time to take action against the negligent doctor had expired.
Although Mr. McConnell was unable to help Mrs. Jones or her family, he refused to allow this unfair Virginia law to remain on the books. Instead, he rewrote the law so that the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the patient learns of the diagnosis. Mr. McConnell enlisted the aid of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. Delegate Kristen Amundson (D-Fairfax) introduced the bill to the General Assembly at the beginning of the 2008 session. The bill worked its way through subcommittees, committees, and the full House and Senate without a single vote against it at any stage. Thus, House Bill 616 passed unanimously and will become the law of Virginia when Governor Tim Kaine signs the bill on April 28.
About the Attorney: Virginia medical malpractice attorney Malcolm P. “Mic” McConnell is the lead attorney in the medical malpractice section of The Allen Law Firm. Mic is board certified as a medical malpractice attorney by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys and is consistently recognized as one of the most effective malpractice trial lawyers in the state of Virginia. Mic works primarily out of the Richmond, VA branch but handles cases throughout the state of Virginia and Washington, D.C.