Mililani man awarded $5.6 million for missed cancer diagnosis

Posted: Nov 26, 2014 1:57 PM HST Updated: Nov 27, 2014 9:02 AM HST

By Tim Sakahara

mililaniHONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -A misdiagnosis is costing Straub Hospital five-and-a-half million dollars.

A jury has sided with a Mililani man who sued after he was told he didn't have cancer when in fact a tumor was growing in his neck.

Jeff Kim says he was seen by numerous doctors here at Straub but none of them ordered an MRI that he believes would have found the cancer. Now a jury has heard the evidence and sided in Kim's favor.

Jeff Kim was an athletic, active guy back in 2008, but says a misdiagnosis changed his life forever.

"When I left Straub it was confirmed to me that cancer was not something to be afraid of, that it was not there," said Jeff Kim.

He was relieved, but the symptoms never left. Finally a private oral surgeon ordered an MRI and the cancer was found. He claims the lost two years by the misdiagnosis allowed the cancer to reach stage four, the worst level.

"You're looking back and you're going we could have caught this at the early stages and it would have been a one day in the hospital surgery and five weeks radiation and I would have been back to work," said Kim.

Kim had 9 surgeries in one month. Then another one to remove a tumor from behind his eye.

He also needed major reconstructive surgery on his face. Doctors took a bone from his leg and made it into his jaw. They took his chest muscle to reconstruct his mouth and the skin from his abdomen is on his cheek. He can't chew normally and saliva comes out of his cheek when he eats. But he's alive.

"It was a long journey, a very long journey. My future is unknown but I'm happy. I'm happy to be here," said Kim.

He sued Straub over the misdiagnosis. Last night a jury came back with a verdict awarding him $5.62 million.

"You cannot see somebody who is concerned about cancer as Jeff was and let them go without a diagnosis and that's what happened," said Rick Fried, Kim's attorney.

"We respect the legal process and the time that the jury put into the case, but we do disagree with the verdict. We are exploring our options with our legal counsel," said Kristen Bonilla, Hawaii Pacific Health which owns Straub.

Jeff Kim is now advocating for early detection of cancer. At 43 years old he is trying to get his life back to normal.

"Cancer knocks you down to this level and you are fighting to just get back to normal. You're not trying to achieve any other type of greatness you just want normal back in your life," said Kim.

Jeff has returned to work as a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant. He goes back every six months to make sure the cancer stays gone.

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