Manhattan Jury Awards $4,873,703 to 52 year old landscaper, Robert Wyble, and his wife, Zaida Wyble, against Dr. Dale Lange, Chief of Neurology at Hospital for Special Surgery for wrong diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis. Partner, Richard Gurfein tried the Wybles' case in Supreme Court, New York County and took the verdict on March 18, 2014. Reported in the Daily News and WCBS-TV.
Mr. Wyble was referred to Dr. Lange in May of 2005 for complaints of falling down without reason and being able to get right back up as though nothing had happened. Dr. Lange ordered blood tests and a CT scan of Mr. Wyble’s chest, but all the tests were negative. Nevertheless, Dr. Lange told Mr. Wyble he had Myasthenia Gravis. This disease of neuromuscular transmission occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks the receptor cells of the muscle and prevents the muscle from getting the signal from the brain to contract or relax.
Dr. Lange started treatment for Myasthenia Gravis in July of 2005 with medication. By the fall of 2006 he recommended a thymectomy. The Thymus gland is involved in the body’s immune system. In the first dozen years of life it seeds cells throughout the body that will produce antibodies to fight off infection throughout life. After that time it starts to atrophy and ceases to function. In Myasthenia Gravis, it is believed the Thymus gland reactivates and starts producing these antibodies that attack the receptor cells of the muscles. Another way the Thymus gland is involved in Myasthenia Gravis is when the Thymus gland develops a tumor. Testing on Mr. Wyble never found any antibodies or any tumor of thymus gland.
The Thymectomy was done in January 2007. The surgeon sawed through the breast bone and removed the remnants of the thymus as well as fat. Then wired the breast bone back together in the same way they do for open heart surgery. Following the thymectomy Mr. Wyble’s medications were increased. He was also put on Prednisone and in September, 2007 he was started on biweekly plasma exchanges. This went on for another two years until Dr. Lange left Mt. Sinai Hospital without telling his patient. Mr. Wyble then found another neurologist, Dr. Betty Mintz
Dr. Betty Mintz agreed to take on Mr. Wyble as a patient. From the very first visit Dr. Mintz was skeptical about the diagnosis and by November, 2009 when Mr. Wyble suffered an infection of the port for the plasma exchanges, Dr. Mintz was convinced he never had Myasthenia Gravis. She discontinued all the medication and stopped the plasma exchanges. She diagnosed Mr. Wyble with Cataplexy which explained the falling down. She prescribed the correct medicine for that condition and he no longer falls.
The trial lasted three weeks and Dr. Lange continued to maintain he was right in his diagnosis. The jury disagreed. They awarded Mr. Wyble $3.5 million dollars for past and future pain and suffering plus the hospital bill of $373,708. They awarded Mrs. Wyble, who, after six and a half years of being Mr. Wyble’s nurse and not his wife, filed for divorce, $1,000,000 for her loss of services and consortium claim. The total verdict was $4,873,703.