Archive for August 2014

Judge Rules Out Late Applicants in PIP Breast Implant Litigation

A High Court judge has ruled that seventeen late applicants will not be allowed to take part in the forthcoming PIP Breast Implant Litigation.

In 2012 the High Court endorsed a Group Litigation Order (GLO) against the Transform Medical Group and four other cosmetic surgery clinics to allow claimants to make compensation claims against the clinics at which they had undergone breast enhancement surgery with the subsequently recalled PIP breast implants.

The GLO was issued with the condition that all potential claimants register for the PIP breast implant litigation prior to April 2013 in order to find a quick resolution to their claims – the first hearing of the GLO is scheduled to take place at the High Court next month.

Coming up to April 2013, seventeen claims for faulty PIP breast implants were being handled by Tandem Law – a Manchester legal company specialising in Group Litigation Orders. Tandem Law went into liquidation as the cut-off time approached when the company´s overseas investors withdrew their support. Tandem Law was subsequently acquired by AHV Legal.

During the changeover period the claims of the seventeen victims of faulty breast implants were overlooked and the deadline missed. The applications to join the PIP breast implant litigation were only made in February 2014, and the defendants in the case objected to the late registrations.

The question of whether the late applicants should be allowed to join the PIP breast implant litigation went to the High Court, where Mrs Justice Thirwall DBE heard arguments from both sides.

Barristers on behalf of the cosmetic surgery clinics argued that the seventeen claimants should not be allowed to join the PIP breast implant litigation based on the recommendations made in the Jackson Report – the 2014 review of civil litigation, in which Lord Jackson criticised delays and non-compliance with GLOs. The clinics´ barristers provided examples of several recent cases in which Lord Jackson´s recommendations had been applied to support their argument.

Barristers on behalf of the late applicants argued that, should the seventeen claimants be disqualified from participating in the forthcoming PIP breast implant litigation, it might compromise their prospects of recovering compensation for the faulty PIP breast implants. They put forward the scenario that, should the PIP GLO find in favour of the existing claimants, there may not be funds remaining to compensate the seventeen late applicants.

Mrs Justice Thirwall DBE gave the opinion that this argument was speculative, and said that if there were no funds remaining after the GLO to pay compensation, the seventeen clients of AVH Legal would have reasonable cause to sue the law firm. The judge also dismissed an argument that the inclusion of the late applicants would not prejudice the defendants in the GLO – commenting that the clinics are entitled to have certainty in the scope of the claims against them.

The judge allowed the objection by the cosmetic surgery clinics to stand, on the basis of Lord Jackson´s recommendations, and ruled out the late applicants´ inclusion in the PIP breast implant litigation.

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Injured Patients Claim Compensation for Negligent Cataract Treatment

A significant number of patients, who underwent eye surgery at the Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, are claiming compensation for negligent cataract operations.

The potential claims for compensation for negligent cataract treatment arose in May after the Somerset hospital contracted the private company Vanguard Healthcare to assist with a backlog of cataract operations for patients in its catchment area.

The contract was cancelled – and surgical procedures stopped – after just four days with the explanation of “technical reasons” being offered by the Taunton and Somerset Foundation Trust. However, since the cancellation of the contract, thirty-one of the sixty-two patients that underwent eye surgery have reported “poor outcomes”, and are seeking advice about their legal right to claim compensation for negligent cataract treatment.

Eye surgery to remove cataracts usually have a very low complication rate – typically around 1-in-400 – but many patients have complained about blurred vision, swelling and pain beyond that which would be anticipated after cataract removal surgery, and one 84-year-old patient suffered permanent damage to his cornea which will require a cornea transplant if he is ever going to regain his vision.

The Musgrove Park Hospital is treating those affected by the alleged negligence in its own ophthalmology department, but is refusing to comment on the possibility that patients may be able to claim compensation for negligent cataract treatment – only saying that it is carrying out its own investigation into the allegations.

A spokesperson for Vanguard Healthcare acknowledged that the company had received three complaints but said “Patient care is our number one priority and we’re working closely with the Trust to understand and fully investigate the root causes of any complications.”

However a Department of Health spokesperson was adamant that any compensation for negligent cataract treatment which is due to claimants will be paid by Vanguard Healthcare, along with the cost of repairing the damage that has been done to their vision.

He said: “Patients deserve the safest and best care and the NHS will hold this company to account if things have gone wrong, and reclaim costs on behalf of patients. Whoever carries out NHS treatment is subject to the same strict Care Quality Commission regulatory regime.”

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Claim for the Side Effects of Steroid Medication Allowed to Proceed

A woman´s claim for the side effects of steroid medication has been allowed to proceed after a judge ruled that the delay in making the claim was justified.

Lorna Savage (43) from Cobh in County Cork was prescribed the steroid Deltacortil by her GP Dr Michael Madigan in 1997 to treat vasculitis – a condition in which the blood vessels are damaged and cause an irritable rash.

Within a few years of taking the steroid medication, Lorna had developed Avascular Necrosis – a rare but acknowledged side effect of Deltacortril, which interrupts the passage of blood to the bones, causing the bone tissue to die and the bone collapse.

By 2001 – when she was thirty-one years of age – Lorna had both knees and a hip joint replaced, and her condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she was confined to a wheelchair. Lorna still has to take morphine to manage her pain.

After seeking legal advice, Lorna made a claim for the side effects of steroid medication against the estate of her former GP (who died in 1999), her consultant at Cork University Hospital Dr MG Molloy – who also prescribed the medication for her – and Pfizer, the manufacturer of Deltracortil.

In her claim against the two doctors, Lorna alleged that they had both acted negligently by prescribing the steroid medication for her, that both had failed to investigate her symptoms thoroughly, and that both had failed to identify that she was displaying the symptoms of Avascular Necrosis.

Lorna alleged that Pfizer was negligent by failing to provide adequate warning in the literature about Deltacortril that the steroid´s continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis. There was also no warning to advise against the drinking of alcohol while taking the medication.

The estate of Dr Madigan, the Health Service Executive (of behalf of Dr Molloy) and Pfizer each deny their liability for the side effects experienced by Lorna, and Pfizer attempted to get Lorna´s claim for the side effects to steroid medication dismissed on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim to court.

However, at Dublin High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham dismissed Pfizer´s application – finding that the delay was excusable due to Lorna having recently undergone multiple surgeries. Judge Birmingham said that Lorna had been unable to brief her solicitors while she was recovering from the surgeries and he listed the case for a full court hearing later in the year.

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