In August of 2014, while traveling in France, Lourdes Ameziani thought she was pregnant. She bought a home pregnancy test and the result was positive. She called her obstetrician in New York who told her to come to the office for a more definitive blood test. She flew home but woke up on the next day, August 6th, with abdominal pain and nausea before she arrived at her doctor’s office, took the blood test and was told that she was in fact pregnant.

For her pain and nausea, Ms. Ameziani, then 41 years old, was given Tylenol. Later that day, at home, the pain was unrelenting so she called her doctor whose response was to go to a radiologist for an ultrasound and sonograms. An ectopic pregnancy was ruled out but severe pain especially on the right side continued. Unknown at this point was that Ms. Ameziani had an inflamed appendix. She was advised to go to the emergency room if her pain got worse.

That night, still in tremendous pain, she called her doctor’s office and the on call doctor told her on the phone that it sounds like appendicitis and she should call an ambulance. She did and was admitted to the hospital where her appendix ruptured later that night requiring emergency laparoscopic surgery in which the doctors found peritonitis, gangrene and an infection.

In her ensuing medical malpractice lawsuit against her obstetrician and the radiologist, plaintiff claimed that the delayed diagnosis increased the severity of the injury from mere appendicitis to a perforated appendix that required extensive surgery, an extended hospital stay, much more and continuing pain and an early miscarriage of the baby.

The Manhattan jury ruled that both doctors were at fault. Plaintiff was also found to be at fault for not going to the emergency room sooner. Before apportionment (30% to the obstetrician, 41% to the radiologist and 29% to plaintiff), the jury awarded pain and suffering damages in the sum of $725,000 (all past – seven years).

Neither defendant challenged the award as excessive and the defendant obstetrician settled with plaintiff after the verdict.

The radiologist appealed, though, arguing that even if her sonogram report did not rule out the possibility of appendicitis, that was not a substantial factor in causing the delayed diagnosis and resulting injuries. The appellate court agreed and in Ameziani v. Subramanyam (1st Dept. 2023), the judgment against the radiologist was vacated and the complaint against her dismissed.

Inside Information:

  • In her summation, plaintiff’s counsel asked the jury to award past pain and suffering damages in the sum of $2,000,000; she did not ask for an award of future pain and suffering damages.
  • In 2017, plaintiff and her husband moved to Oregon to farm legal marijuana.