In August 2010, Joann Shull Bannister and her husband were told by Dr. Philip Kinder that his team at Columbia Urological Associates were planning on surgically removing a lesion from her left kidney. The Bannisters were relieved when it was determined shortly thereafter that the surgery was unnecessary. According to a medical malpractice lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Bannisters, Kinder and Columbia Urological then allegedly decided to not pursue any treatment at all. The lawyers representing the plaintiff claimed in court that the decision cost Bannister her life.
About eight months after the lesion was identified, her primary physician, Dr. Jerry Robinson, allegedly recommended that the growth should be closely monitored and may need to be removed. But no further testing had been conducted by August 2011 when Bannister scheduled an appointment with Robinson because of an intense pain in her lower back. A scan showed that the lesion was growing and could be malignant. According to the lawsuit the radiologist allegedly recommended further evaluation, but her doctors were never informed and Bannister was sent home.
It was not until June 2012 that another test was conducted. Robinson ordered a scan that showed the lesion was definitely growing. The radiologist concluded that it was “absolutely” malignant and had begun to metastasize, or spread to other parts of her body. Nearly two years after being told that she had a lesion on her left kidney, Banister consulted a cancer specialist. But according to the lawsuit “the cancer was too advanced and caused her death on Oct. 1, 2012.”
The lawsuit named Robinson and Kinder as defendants as well as their respective practices, Columbia Medical Associates and Columbia Urological Associates. The medical malpractice lawsuit went to trial in October 2017 after Bannister’s husband, Adolf, rejected a $250,000 settlement from Kinder and Columbia Urological. Robinson was dismissed from the case, but his practice Columbia Medical Associates settled for $350,000.
At the end of the weeklong trial, the South Carolina jury deliberated for around three hours before ruling in favor of the Bannister family. The jury found Kinder and Columbia Urological negligent in their care of Bannister, then 70-years-old, which lead to her death. The verdict came with a $10 million award.
“The jury agreed that no one should have to go through what this lady and her family went through,” said one of the attorneys representing the Bannister family.
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