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Jury Awards $43 Million To Woman Who Gave Birth To Brain-damaged Boy

January 13, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ A jury has awarded $43 million to a woman who contended her doctor mistakenly diagnosed her with cancer and prompted her to give birth early. The baby was born severely brain damaged.

Jan Goldberg, 48, a housewife from New Milford, N.J., and her 7-year-old son, Christopher, were awarded the money Thursday night after the Manhattan jury deliberated three hours.

The jury found Dr. Robert C. Wallach, who specializes in detecting cancer in pregnant women, 100 percent liable for incorrectly diagnosing Mrs. Goldberg with cervical cancer, said Harvey Weitz, the Goldbergs’ lawyer.

The diagnosis prompted Christopher’s five-week early, Caesarian-section delivery at Beth Israel Medical Center, where Wallach was chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department.

Christopher was born March 4, 1988, with respiratory problems that caused brain damage and cerebral palsy. It was not clear what caused the birth defects, which have left him severely retarded.

Beth Israel must pay the $43 million, Weitz said. Hospital spokesman Jim Mandler said neither the verdict nor the size of the award was justified and that Beth Israel would appeal.

Robert F. Deutsch, lawyer for the defendants, did not return calls.

Wallach, now director of gynecological oncology at New York University Medical Center, scared her into having the Caesarian-section, then removed her ovaries without her knowledge or consent during the operation because he thought they were cancerous, Weitz said.

``She did not have cancer, and she still does not have cancer,″ Weitz said. ``She had a dysplasia condition, a pre-cancerous condition of the cervix.″

Weitz also told the six-member jury that Wallach did not advise Mrs. Goldberg on the hazards of delivering her baby five weeks premature.

Mrs. Goldberg gets $10 million for past and future pain and suffering. Christopher gets $33 million for therapies, nursing care, and rebuilding their house to accommodate him.

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