Attorneys for Pen Bay Medical Center, MaineHealth, two doctors, and an eye care practice are denying that they mishandled a medical case nearly five years ago.

The responses to the medical malpractice lawsuit were filed Jan. 6 in the Knox County court on behalf of the health care organizations, Dr. James Kilgour; Dr. Jeremiah Labree, an optometrist; and Dr. William Coppola Inc. who were named as defendants in the lawsuit filed on behalf of Danica Hooper.

Hooper filed her claim against the defendants in 2018, but state law requires that malpractice complaints must be heard by a pre-screening litigation panel before cases can proceed through the court system. The panel held a hearing Oct. 30, 2019, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was officially filed in the court Nov. 27. Prior to that filing, the case was sealed from public view. Results from the screening panel are confidential.

This is the first medical malpractice lawsuit that has reached the public process in many years in Knox County.

Only one malpractice complaint was filed in Knox County in 2019, four in 2018, two in 2017, one in 2016, none in 2015, two in 2014, three in 2013, four in 2012, six in 2011, and four in 2010. Lawsuits can be filed in the county where either the plaintiff, defendant, or both are located.

Those other cases would have been dismissed, settled, or still in the pre-screening litigation process.

Hooper claims in the lawsuit that she went to see Labree in September 2015 for severe papilldema. Papilledema is a condition which increased pressure in or around the brain causes part of the optic nerve inside the eye to swell.

The lawsuit claims that the optometrist failed to take emergency action to reduce the intracranial pressure and instead told her she could wait four days, when she was scheduled to meet with a neurosurgeon. Labree was an employee of Dr. William Coppola Inc. at that time, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit further alleges that she also saw Kilgour at Pen Bay, and he also did not take emergency action.

As a result, according to the lawsuit, Hooper's papilledema progressed and resulted in blindness, extreme pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, loss of employment advancement opportunities, and severe emotional distress.

Hooper is represented by attorney Alison Wholey Briggs of Rockport.

Pen Bay, MaineHealth, and Kilgour are represented by attorneys James Martemucci and Carl Woock of Portland. Labree and the Coppola Inc. are represented by Karen Frink Wolf and Marie Mueller of Portland.

The defendants have denied the claims in their responses.

No specific dollar amount of damages being sought is listed in the lawsuit.