A Lake County, Ind. jury late Thursday evening found a former doctor guilty of medical malpractice and awarded a victim's family more than $13 million in damages.
A civil suit alleged that Dr. Mark Weinberger failed to diagnose Phyllis Barnes' lung cancer and instead treated her for other ailments in an intentional money-making scheme. The defense team tried unsuccessfully to convince the jury that the oversight wasn't intentional and that some cancers are difficult to detect.
"This is a verdict that will hang over him like an albatross for the rest of his life," said attorney Kenneth Allen, who represented Barnes' family. "We'll make sure he doesn't profit from his wrongdoing, that anything he gains in the future will be the property of the Barnes family, and that he understands that what he did was wrong and should never be repeated by anyone."
Phyllis Barnes died from the disease in 2004, just days before Weinberger disappeared during a family vacation to Greece.
"Having this verdict come out in our favor kind of -- it doesn't justify what she went through, but it at least puts her to rest in the most positive way knowing that in her passing she's bringing this man to justice," said Barnes' daughter, Shawn Barnes.
A co-defendent in the lawsuit, physician's assistant Joe Clinkenbeard, was found not guilty.
An Indiana medical review board had previously decided that the actions of Weinberger and Clinkenbeard failed to comply with ethical standards.
"Clinkenbeard was in the suit, frankly, because the medical malpractice review panel said he should be in the suit. At all times our focus was Mark Weinberger, and candidly, [Clinkenbeard] was kind of a distraction," said Allen.
Weinberger pleaded guilty in October to 22 counts of health care fraud for charges of billing patients for nose surgeries he never performed. Sentencing in that case is scheduled for April 27.
Weinberger also faces more than 350 medical malpractice suits in Indiana, as well as a federal lawsuit filed by his malpractice insurance provider. The company contends Weinberger breached his contract when he fled the country, becoming an international fugitive.
He was captured on a mountain in Italy after he disappeared during a family vacation to Greece. A guide on the mountain tipped off police that Weinberger was living in a tent, equipped with survival gear.
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