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Florida Teen Dies in Negligent Breast Surgery

Stephanie Kuleba was a cheerleader for West Boca High School when she underwent plastic surgery for an inverted nipple and asymmetrical breasts. Because of a rare genetic condition known as malignant hyperthermia, Stephanie had a severe reaction to the anasthesia. The anasthesiologist administered the antidote, dantrolene, as quickly as he could. But he and the plastic surgeon were unable to save Stephanie. The 18-year-old died on the operating table in a breast surgery.

Stephanie’s mother, Joanne Kuleba, and her father Tom have been through devastating sadness, that has given way to frustration, anger and determination.

Joanne says she feels no satisfaction from the $500,000 she received in insurance settlements; $250,000 from each of the doctor’s insurers. Florida medical malpractice lawyers understand the frustration of proving malpractice against members of a profession who are reluctant to criticize other members.


Joanne Kuleba felt she had little choice but to accept $500,000 to end the lawsuit because of caps the state Legislature imposed to protect doctors from skyrocketing insurance rates.

The Florida Board of Medicine cleared the doctors before she and Stephanie’s father even knew an investigation had been launched.

The doctors, backed by the Board of Medicine, claimed that Stephanie’s condition of malignant hyperthermia meant that there was nothing the doctors could do to guarantee her recovery. They say they did all they could.

Source: Florida Herald “Breast-surgery death drives parents” 9/21/2010

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