J. Thaddeus Eckenrode

A Madison County jury has ruled in favor of Granite City urologist Richard Blath, M.D. in a medical malpractice trial that lasted a week in Madison County.

A jury of eight men and four women cleared Blath of misdiagnosing prostate cancer in his patient, Henry Grzeskowiak of Bethalto, on Sept. 15.

The jury agreed with a motion for a directed verdict made by Blath's attorney, J. Thaddeus Eckenrode of St. Louis, that plaintiffs failed to show Blath was guilty of any negligence.

This was the third medical malpractice trial in Madison County this year.

The first, in January, abruptly settled after opening arguments in a case against Anderson Hospital, Raghu Kanumuri, M.D., Jacob Marshall, M.D. and Michael Rallo, M.D.

On May 11, after a nine-day medical malpractice trial, a Madison County jury delivered a defense verdict, ruling that Troy physician Dolores Cantrell, M.D. met the standard of care in treating William Hoppe, II.

Madison County Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn presided over the trial on allegations brought by Grzeskowiak.

He claimed that on Oct. 1, 2001, Blath performed a transrectal ultrasound of the prostate and it showed "numerous abnormalities" and nodule "suspicious for possible occult malignancy."

Blath performed biopsies and a week later reported that the pathology report was benign and that no evidence of malignancy was reported.

According to Grzeskowiak, Blath noted in his chart that he could see him for a follow up in six months or as needed for a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.

PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. The doctor takes a blood sample, and the amount of PSA is measured in a laboratory.

According to the National Cancer Institute, PSA levels alone do not give doctors enough information to distinguish between benign prostate conditions and cancer. However, the doctor will take the result of the PSA test into account when deciding whether to check further for signs of prostate cancer.

On Aug. 30, 2002, Grzeskowiak was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He claims had a six month PSA level been obtained in early March 2002, it would have been five and half to six months sooner than when the diagnosis was eventually made.

Represented by Amy Collignon Gunn of Simon Passanante in St. Louis, Grzeskowiak claimed Blath was negligent by failing to inform Grzeskowiak to return for a PSA and repeat biopsy in three to six months, failed to inform Mr. Grzeskowiak's primary care physician that he needed a repeat biopsy and also claims that he failed to diagnose the prostate cancer.

Grzeskowiak claimed as a result of the negligence, his cancer went undiagnosed and untreated resulting is significant worsening of both the stage of his cancer and medical prognosis.

Charlotte Grzeskowiak claimed because of the injuries to her husband she has been and will continue to be deprived of her husband's affection, companionship and services.

In the case against Anderson Hospital and its physicians that settled Jan. 17, sources told The Record prior to the start of the trial a settlement offer of approximately $2.5 million was made but rejected by the plaintiff.

Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron entered the settlement under seal.

In the verdict reached in favor of Cantrell in May, Pamela Hoppe, as special administrator of the estate of William Hoppe II, claimed her husband's unstable angina was misdiagnosed on July 18, 2003, which caused his death the next day.

Hoppe claimed that Cantrell failed to adequately and promptly treat the angina and failed to send her husband to a cardiologist for immediate help.

Pamela Hoppe died shortly after filing her case which led Carolyn Schur, the children's aunt, to take over as administrator of both estates.

That case is currently on appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court in Mt. Vernon.

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