West Virginia Record

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Mercer Co. woman says Beckley doctors improperly placed birth control device

By Jessica Karmasek | Aug 26, 2015


BECKLEY – A Mercer County woman is suing two Beckley physicians for negligence, alleging they are responsible for an improperly placed birth control device.

Plaintiff Melissa D. Cutter Johnson of Princeton filed her lawsuit Aug. 7 against Drs. Marcia A. Khalil and Gina Jereza-Harris and Community Health Systems Inc. doing business as Access Health-OB/GYN in Raleigh Circuit Court.

Johnson, according to the complaint, gave birth to a baby girl Aug. 8, 2009 at Raleigh General Hospital. On Sept. 28, 2009, she had a Mirena-brand intrauterine device placed as a method of birth control. The placement was done at Access Health.

When properly placed, Mirena IUDs are more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy for up to five years.

According to Johnson’s complaint, she became pregnant with twin daughters – with the IUD still present – in September 2012.

Notes from an October 2012 appointment with Jereza-Harris – included in the complaint – show that both she and another physician attempted to remove the IUD, unsuccessfully.

After having a pelvic MRI completed, Johnson was then referred to a physician at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington.

According to Johnson’s complaint, the physician, Dr. David Chaffin, determined the IUD was not quite placed properly; however, it was not embedded, so it could fall out once the cervix dilated.

Johnson continued on with her pregnancy, and no defects were detected.

On May 10, 2013, she underwent a caesarian section – at the hands of Khalil and Jereza-Harris – to deliver her twins.

According to the lawsuit, the physicians were unable to locate the IUD at the time of the section.

As a result, Johnson underwent a number of surgical procedures following her delivery.

In addition, several days after birth, one of the babies – referred to as “G.E. Johnson” in the complaint – was diagnosed with various congenital defects.

It wasn’t until December 2014 that the IUD was located and successfully removed by a physician at the Princeton Community Hospital.

Johnson contends in her 12-page complaint that as a “direct and proximate” result of Khalil and Jereza-Harris’ negligence, she underwent a “complicated” medical course and suffered multiple “unnecessary” surgeries. In addition, she alleges she has suffered economic damages, including but not limited to lost wages and continued medical expenses for her child.

Community Health, Johnson argues, also must be held liable for its physicians’ actions.

The plaintiff seeks compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages. She also demands prejudgment and post-judgment interest.

R. Dean Hartley, Mark R. Staun and David B. Lunsford of Wheeling law firm Hartley & O’Brien PLLC are representing Johnson in the lawsuit.

Raleigh Circuit Court case number 15-C-752

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Hartley & O'Brien, PLLC