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I t wasn’t a pretty sight in 1994 when Janice Bird saw her mother, Nita, being wheeled down a hospital hallway from the operating room to a critical care unit.

Doctors had severed a vein during a routine outpatient procedure, and the 68-year-old woman, suffering from ovarian cancer, had turned purple and blown up like a balloon. She died 14 months later, and Janice Bird and two sisters sued for emotional distress, saying the doctors’ mistakes had been fatal.

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