Med-mal claim related to breast cancer treatment. Defense verdict. Sacramento County.


Cancer center says patient did not follow through with post-operative oncology treatments.

The Case

  • Case Name: Zenaida Gutierrez v. The Regents of the University of California
  • Court and Case Number: Sacramento County Superior Court / 2016-00197135
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, March 09, 2022
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, July 11, 2016
  • Type of Case: Medical Malpractice
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David De Alba
  • Plaintiffs:
    Zenaida Gutierrez, 65
  • Defendants:
    The Regents of the University of California
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 8 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 hour
  • Jury Polls: 10-2

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Mitchell Leeds, LLP by Nathaniel Leeds San Francisco.

    The Veen Firm, P.C. by Clifton N. Smoot, San Francisco.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP by Paul R. Baleria and Christopher T. Choi, Sacramento.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Judy Schmidt, M.D., medical oncology.

    R. Michael Williams, M.D., medical oncology. (Treating physician.)

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Richard Bleicher, M.D., surgical oncology.

    Melinda Telli, M.D., medical oncology.

    Maurice Nahabedian, M.D., plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff initially presented to the U.C. Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center on June 21, 2010, and was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) with microinvasion in her left breast. She was primarily Spanish-speaking but had her daughter present for all visits to translate for her.

    Plaintiff underwent a mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction on September 8, 2010, without complication. The surgical pathology report revealed multicentric disease, prompting a referral to the medical oncology service. At the medical oncology consultation on October 4, 2010, the physicians recommended that plaintiff undergo adjuvant chemotherapy plus targeted therapy in the form of Herceptin to address HER2 positive cancer. She was unsure she wanted to proceed, so appointments were made for a follow-up visit and an echocardiogram in anticipation of starting medical therapy. Plaintiff did not attend the follow-up appointments.

    A staff member from the U.C. Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center called plaintiff's daughter on November 3, 2010, to advise her that plaintiff needed to return to see the medical oncologists, though plaintiff did not do so and was not seen again as a patient at the cancer center. Subsequently, plaintiff was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer in 2015. She came under the care of an oncologist in Modesto and has received ongoing treatment for her condition.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the U.C. Davis physicians and medical providers negligently managed her breast cancer treatment, including by not appropriately following up to ensure she received chemotherapy.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That its physicians and medical providers complied with the standard of care in their treatment, recommendations and follow-up care.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Recurrence of breast cancer.

  • None.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $2,200,043.78
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $2,006,703.90
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: 0
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: 0

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: None.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: None.