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$12.8 Million Dollar Jury Award for Breast Cancer Patient

Mercer County

A Mercer County jury awarded $12.8 million to a Hermitage school teacher who had filed a malpractice lawsuit against two doctors for failing to diagnose her breast cancer.

Marie Viola, 48, is suffering from incurable breast cancer that has spread to her liver, according to one of her attorneys, Neil Rosen of Pittsburgh.

Dr. John P. Gallagher, a Hermitage gynecologist, performed a breast examination on Viola in September 1996, felt something he described as "vague" in her left breast, but neglected to conduct a tissue biopsy. Then Dr. John Garriott, a radiologist, performed a mammogram that he concluded was normal.

About 18 months later, other doctors diagnosed Viola with an advanced form of breast cancer that had metastasized in her lower back. Chemotherapy and stem-cell transplants have not succeeded and the cancer has since spread to her liver.

"When she dies, it likely will be of breast cancer," Rosen said.

The defendants in the lawsuit were Gallagher, Garriott and Garriott's employer, the Sharon Regional Health System.

Jack Quinn, attorney for Sharon Regional Health System, said the defendants plan to appeal.

Viola did not return a phone message. 

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