Rose Marie Benson claimed a lesion

on her husband’s face was not handled properly.

BANGOR (AP) – The widow of a Bradley man has lost her negligence lawsuit against the veterans hospital in Togus, but has been awarded $100,000 in damages for emotional distress.

U.S. District Judge George Singal ruled that doctors who treated Steven Benson were negligent in their failure to promptly diagnose and treat him for cancer, but were not responsible for his death.

Benson died in June of 2000 at the age of 55. His widow, Rose Marie Benson, later sued the Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office Center at Togus.

At the trial in April, lawyers for Rose Marie Benson attempted to prove that a cheek tumor was the primary source of Steven Benson’s cancer and that the failure to treat it promptly caused his death. Benson first complained about a lump in his right cheek in 1997, but a biopsy was not performed until May 1999.

Government attorneys presented experts who said the cancer originated in the prostate and spread to the cheek, not the other way around.

Singal sided with government attorneys, citing testimony from Dr. John Clark, director of the Head and Neck Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Clark testified that he had never seen cancer cells spread to the prostate, but had seen several instances of cancer spreading from the prostate to the skin. Therefore, any delay in performing a biopsy on Benson’s cheek lesion made no difference in preventing his death.

Singal, however, also ruled that Steven Benson suffered severe emotional distress as a result of the delayed diagnosis.

Rose Marie Benson’s attorney, Terry Garmey of Portland, called the ruling “bittersweet.”

“We believe we proved this was malpractice that emotionally injured and caused the premature death of Mr. Benson,” he said. “It was also a fair and compassionate verdict on the issue of damages.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Evan Roth said his office is considering whether to appeal Singal’s decision to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. An appeal must be filed by mid-July.

AP-ES-06-03-03 1109EDT

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.