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Former Iowa Clinic pathologist sues insurer over 2019 malpractice case


A former Iowa Clinic pathologist who had testified in a highly publicized medical malpractice case in 2019 that she was responsible for a mix-up in biopsy results that resulted in surgery performed on the wrong patient is now suing the clinic’s Minneapolis-based insurance company. The now-retired pathologist, Dr. Joy Trueblood, filed a lawsuit against MMIC Insurance Inc., which provided malpractice coverage for the clinic, and Nicole Graziano, who according to the complaint was the claims manager in the case. In the complaint filed electronically June 27 in Polk County District Court, Trueblood claims that MMIC officials pressured her to take the blame for the error, which she said the company knew was not her fault. The patient who underwent unnecessary prostate surgery as a result of the error received a $12.25 million jury award in April 2019, which was settled for $9 million. Trueblood is seeking punitive damages in the case, alleging bad faith, breach of fiduciary duty and intentional infliction of emotional distress on the part of MMIC and Graziano. Trueblood initially sued MMIC in April 2020 in a Minnesota district court, but the court dismissed the suit, ruling that Minnesota law applied to the matter. Because Trueblood settled the malpractice lawsuit for an amount within her policy limits and did not make any personal payment toward the settlement, MMIC did not breach its duty of good faith, the Minnesota court ruled. In February, a Minnesota appeals court upheld the district court’s ruling — but expressed “no opinion as to whether Trueblood may pursue her claims in a different forum.” An attorney with MMIC, when contacted for comments on the Iowa lawsuit, stated that the case had been “adjudicated and dismissed in favor of MMIC in February of 2021” in Minnesota, and that Graziano, the claim consultant, “was improperly named in that lawsuit and dismissed early in the proceedings.”

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