UTMB, docs named in breast surgery lawsuit

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Jul. 16, 2008, 4:28pm


GALVESTON – A local married couple blames The University of Texas Medical Branch and two of its physicians for a procedure that reportedly yielded negative results for the wife.

Cynthia and Louis Malveaux filed suit against the 120-year-old medical institution and Drs. Lisa Gould and Richard Thomas Ethridge in Galveston County District Court on July 15.

They allege the hospital and doctors demonstrated negligence toward the breast reduction surgery performed on Cynthia Malveaux almost two years ago.

"On July 19, 2006, Mrs. Malveaux underwent a bilateral reduction mammoplasty at The University of Texas Medical Branch," states the suit, which will be heard before the 56th District Court.

The court document also explains that Cynthia Malveaux suffered from breast cancer some years prior to the operation and was subjected to lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The treatment left her right breast and any accompanying tissue inoperable, court papers say.

Physicians, however, told Cynthia Malveaux they "could operate on the irradiated tissue of the right breast."

Cynthia Malveaux opted to go under the knife. Her right breast failed to heal after the procedure, says the suit.

"Mrs. Malveaux suffered from extensive ulceration, fat necrosis, and has been subjected to multiple procedures in order to correct defendant's negligence," the plaintiffs' original petition states.

Consequently, Cynthia Malveaux "has been subject to unsuccessful skin grafting, a total mastectomy of her right breast and reconstruction with TRAM flap."

The suit brings up the doctrine of respondeat superior against UTMB.

"The nurses and staff at defendant UTMB used and/or misused its tangible personal property in caring for Mrs. Malveaux in that UTMB used and/or misused the medical supplies and dressings, by failing to use dressings and medical equipment to promote full healing of Mrs. Malveaux's irradiated right breast," the suit states.

Drs. Gould and Ethridge, according to court papers, "misused medical equipment, including but not limited to scalpels and surgical equipment to operate on (Cynthia) Malveaux's irradiated right breast" in addition to poorly comprehending documents.

"Further, defendants misread or misinterpreted Mrs. Malveaux's medical chart and recommended reduction after radiation to the tissue of the right breast," the suit states.

Cynthia Malveaux seeks retribution for past and future medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement and loss of earning capacity.

Louis Malveaux is suing for loss of consortium and loss of household services.

Attorney Richard A. Melendez II is representing the Malveaux couple. The plaintiffs have filed a request for a jury trial.

District Judge Lonnie Cox is presiding over the case.

Case No. 08CV0755

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