Katrina Dennis was regent at the University of Maryland, but she also practiced law as a corporate attorney. Perhaps that gave her an edge when she hired a lawyer of her own so she could sue the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and one of the doctors who worked there for negligence in the care she was receiving after a breast cancer diagnosis. But when the cancer killed her, the case was dropped.
The trial to determine if the hospital and doctor were liable for the spread of her cancer was only supposed to last two weeks in the Baltimore County Circuit Court, but Dennis died before it could be completed.
Robert Welchek, who represented Dennis, acknowledged to reporters that the judge declared a mistrial and dismissed the case when Dennis died of complications. Welchek and her other representatives did not oppose the motion to dismiss, nor did they provide any further information on the case.
Dennis discovered she had breast cancer when she was diagnosed in 2015.
According to case files, Dennis believed that she had received a negligent standard of care because her doctor allegedly led her to believe her breast cancer would be cured without potential recurrences after surgery to remove the tumor. She also contended that her doctor should have put her on a drug called Tamoxifen, which is supposed to prevent cancer cells from spreading after such a surgery.
Her second diagnosis with breast cancer occurred in 2017. By then the cancer cells had spread to blood, bones, and organs and could not be treated successfully.
Lawyers representing the hospital and the doctor said they believed that Dennis had been provided with the same standard of care anyone else could have received. Her doctor listed her options and subsequently continued to perform blood tests to try to detect the spread of cancer cells early. These attempts to save her life failed.
Dennis served on both the Education Policy and Student Life Committee during her tenure on the Board of Regents. She also maintained a presence on the Organization and Compensation Committee in addition to placing as chair for the Coppin State University Presidential Search Committee.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan tweeted, “Katrina was a top lawyer, a respected leader in the Baltimore region, and someone who lived each day committed to giving back to her community.”
Had she won the case against the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, she would have received approximately $24 million in damages.