Medical Negligence News

Australia: Vaginal Mesh Class Action Won Against Johnson & Johnson


More than 1,350 Australian women have been successful in their long-running class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in relation to the use of vaginal mesh implants.

Australia’s Federal Court deemed that J&J subsidiary Ethicon had not issued an adequate warning to patients and surgeons in relation to the “risks” posed by the products that were being implemented. The vaginal mesh implants were often used to mitigate against pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence that took place following childbirth.

A number of patients included in the legal action said they had experienced chronic pain, bleeding and significant discomfort during sexual intercourse after having the mesh surgically inserted.

Judge Anna Katzmann found that the majority of information the company made available on the products was “inaccurate” and at times made “false representations”. Damages will be set during 2020. Judge Katzmann said: “The risks were known, not insignificant and on Ethicon’s own admission, serious harm could ensue if they eventuated.”

Ethicon argued against this and is thinking about launching an appeal. A statement was released by the company which said: “Ethicon believes that the company acted ethically and responsibly in the research, development and supply of these products.”

Julie Davis, the original claimant said: “They have treated women essentially like guinea pigs, lied about it and done nothing to help”. This ruling comes after the Australian government  last year issuing a national apology to women affected by vaginal mesh, acknowledging decades of ‘agony and pain’ “.

The case is one of a number of legal actions Johnson & Johnson faces over the products all over the world. Last October, the company agreed paying almost $117m (£90.5m) to settle compensation claims linked to pelvic mesh in 41 US states and the District of Columbia. There are also a number of legal actions in relation to the use of the product in Canada and Europe, including Ireland.

24-Year-Old Man Cerebral Palsy Action Settled for €21m


A cerebral sufferer, 24-year-old Connor Corroon, has settled for a final lump sum payment of €17.5m in the legal action his took in relation to the circumstances of his birth at a Cork hospital at the High Court yesterday.

High Court approval was given to the final payment – one of the biggest ever recorded in the State. This payment marks the end to a 17-year legal action by the Corroon family. It means the total amount of payments awarded to Connor is €21.75m. Connor is unable to walk without assistant and must use a wheelchair to move around from place to place. He can only communicate with others using the help of special eye gaze technology.

Mr Corroon remarked: “Today represents the end of 17 long years. I feel free and today my life begins.” In relation to the final settlement he said: “I am happy with that. I am proud that for the first time ever I was able to speak in public and let people know what I wanted to convey rather than others guessing what I was thinking. The experience has been so liberating.”

Connor’s mother urged the court to allow one lump sum payment so the family could move on in their lives. She asked that the family be allowed to move away from the “fishbowl life” as her son had to undergo assessments by different specialists before his regular court appearances.

In an earlier court hearing it was outlayed how McCorroon suffered catastrophic injuries when he was being giving birth to at City General Hospital, Cork, in 1995 and will need care for the entirety of his life.

Mr Corroon’s legal counsel David Holland SC went back to the High Court last week for a final lump sum cerebral palsy compensation settlement. They informed the Judge that expert advice they received said that, due to indexation, the yearly periodic payment made allowance for in the new legislation “will get more and more insufficient over time”. Mr Holland advised the Court that the family found the “burden of coming to court intolerable and horribly intrusive”.

€10k Missing Medical Instruments Compensation Awarded due to Cancelled Procedure


The High Court has approved a missing medical instruments compensation award of  €10,000 against the Mater Private Hospital after a man, who had been placed under anaesthetic, never had his operation as a vital piece of medical equipment went missing from the surgical team.

Mr. Peter Keegan (31) was scheduled for an operation on his right hip on 25 November 2016, in the Mater Private Hospital, Eccles St, Dublin 7. However, after he has been placed under general anaesthetic it was discovered that an apparatus was missing and the the procedure could not proceed. When He awoke he was informed of this, which led to him experiencing some distress and his teams of nurses had to settle him down.

Mr Keegan informed the judge that was extremely drowsy upon being discharged from the hospital and went on to suffer with stomach pain and nausea in the days after the cancelled procedure.

Judge John O’ Connor, the Circuit Court this week, was told that Mr Keegan, – with an address at Woodbine Park, Raheny, Dublin 5 was represented in court by Barrister Conor Kearney, appearing with Mark Tiernan, of Tiernan & Company solicitors – had been admitted to the hospital’s short stay procedure unit at 6.45am on the morning in question. At approximately 7.30am he was given an anesthetic. Following this, when the operation set of instruments had been unpacked, it was noticed that an irrigation extender was not to be found.

After some investigation, it was realised that the missing piece of equipment had been sent for repair around one month previously. Unfortunately, the missing piece in question had not been replaced. When Mr Keegan came to from the anaesthetic around 8.30am, he was informed the error.

A new procedure was scheduled for December 5, some ten days later. Mr Keegan told the Judge that he had been worried leading up to the new operation. He said he was very nervous about taking the anaesthetic again.

Judge O’Connor held that had been surgical negligence on behalf of the Mater Private Hospital in what he called an ‘unfortunate incident’. The Judge went on to say that Mr Keegan had been upset and concerned following after the cancelled procedure and was fortunate that there had been no long-term effects.

Judge O’Connor awarded Keegan €10,000 missing medical instruments compensation damages against the Mater Private Hospital in relation to the incident.

Dental Negligence Settlement Following Unauthorized Procedure


An undisclosed dental settlement has been agreed following talks at the Circuit Civil Court between Roisin Mimnagh, a patient who was left scared to smile following an unauthorized dental treatment,  and the the dentist that provided treatment.

Solicitor David McParland, appearing on behalf of Mrs Mimnagh,told the presiding judge that Mrs Mimnigh is normally ok with her appearance. She wished to have an an incisor realigned and booked an appointment with Dr Anna O’Donovan, Griffith Avenue, Dublin. Mr McParland stated: “To her horror she (Mr Mimnagh) afterwards found that her tooth had been filed away and replaced with an amalgam or composite that was smaller and shorter and different from her original tooth”.

Prior to the treatment, Ms Mimnagh saids that the thought she was going to have some white filling applied to her tooth to make it look more straight. However when this is not what happened and the tooth in question had been filed away and replaced with an amalgam composite she suffered a traumatic reaction. She was quite emotion and unhappy with her smile as she not given her permission for this course of treatment to be completed.

Remedial treatment was carried out, not long after the initial appointment, during 2013. However, Ms Mimnagh, according to Mr McParland, still wears an appliance on her tooth and an independent dental expert has told her that she requires additional realignment work.

Dr O’Donovan submitted a full defence to Ms Mimnagh’s legal action through her legal counsel while admitting that written consent for the specific treatment for her tooth had not been obtained from the patient given. The Judge was also informed that the case before the court was not one of deciding liability but a matter of assessing damages.

However, as the most up to date medical report was around three years old Judge Linnane said that she would be unable to assess final damages at this time and she suggest that the parties conduct talks to try and settle the case.

Talks took place and the Judge was informed that the case had been settled and could be dismissed.

UK Expert Speaks out against Vaginal Mesh Usage


In the United Kingdom one of the main experts on the use of vaginal mesh for medical treatment has expressed the opinion that devices such as these are unsafe for the treatment of incontinence.

Previously, chartered chemist Dr Chris DeArmitt has been an expert witness during court actions against vaginal mesh manufacturers and has helped over 9,000 women settle their compensation actions successfully.

Vaginal mesh devices are used in operations to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP); two conditions women can suffer from after natural childbirth or in their later years.

Minister for Health Simon Harris confirmed the suspension in Ireland of all surgical procedures involving these devices until the HSE implements 19 recommendations that were made by the Chief Medical Officer in Ireland, Dr Tony Holohan, at the end of 2018.

Dr Holohan’s report concluded that the devices referred to as transvaginal mesh implants (TVMIs), used for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, can no longer be regarded as safe or acceptable for first line treatment. He said that these devices should only now be used in the management of complex cases, where other treatment options have failed or are not appropriate.

He said that there is enough research to support the use of mesh as a mid-urethral sling for stress urinary incontinence or as an abdominally placed mesh for management of prolapse.

Previously in Ireland, during 2017, several legal actions were submitted. These arose, according to legal representatives for the women in question, after the women who were suffering from pain viewed new reports from the UK detailing legal actions in that jurisdiction. Before this they had, according to the legal counsel, been unaware of any possible link between their health issues and the device.

Earlier in in 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration outlawed the sale and distribution of all mesh that was to be implemented in relation to pelvic organ prolapse. This decision was taken following the highlighting on many safety concerns by the general public. More than 100,000 people are suing in the United States in relation to injuries and illnesses that, they claim, came about due to the use of vaginal mesh.

Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health said the FDA needed evidence that the devices worked better than the other procedure for POP that does not use mesh. The alternative procedure uses native tissue to repair the prolapse. He said: “Patient safety is our highest priority, and women must have access to safe medical devices that provide relief from symptoms and better management of their medical conditions.”

Prescription Error Compensation Settlement of €710,000 Paid by HSE


The High Court has approved a €710,000 prescription error compensation settlement offer from the Health Service Executive (HSE) for a 69-year-old woman who suffered a major stroke after she was discharged from a hospital without her blood thinning medication.

In addition to this an apology from the HSE was out following the approval. Along with the €710,000 payment, annual care for the rest of her life in the region of €250,000 a year is also being provided.

The woman in question, Mary Moss, went without her required anti-coagulants “unknowingly” for a period of six weeks. Due to this lack of medication she suffered a major stroke and is now disabled.

The issued an apology to Ms Moss, via a court statement, and her family for any “shortcomings” the occurred during her treatment at Sligo University Hospital. It went on to express regret for the major upheaval that this has caused to the life of Ms Moss and her family.

Legal representative for Ms Moss, Des O’Neill SC, for Ms Moss, informed the High Court that she had suffered a stroke in 2010 and recovered well. However, in February 2018 she had experienced another ‘episode’ and her anti-thinning medication was changed in hospital. However, her medication was not included on her prescription on her discharge. Sadly, this mistake remained unnoticed until MS Moss suffered a stroke six weeks later.

Mr O’Neill said Ms Moss is currently in the National Rehabilitation Hospital, having made a significant recovery. Her family plan are making plans to being her home to Ballymote, Co Sligo, as soon as they can feasibly do so. Her daughter, Leanne Moss said outside court that she was relieved to know that her mother’s care will be paid for annually and that this would help her family greatly. She said her mother has to use a she suffers from left side paralysis following the stroke.

The family’s solicitor, Roger Murray, said: “Thanks to a successful mediation, the family can now concentrate on getting the best possible care for their mother, and moving her home to the west where she is happiest.”

HIV Positive Woman Awarded €10,000 Compensation after Dentist Stopped Treating Mid-Procedure


AA HIV positive woman has been awarded €10,000 in compensation after a dentist refused to treat her, stopping while she was in the dentist chair and under anaesthetic, after she advised him that she had HIV status.

Along with this to this the dentist has agreed to provide a written apology to the woman in question.

Before attending the dental appointment for her procedure, the woman had made her HIV status known to the dental clinic. Following this, during the procedure, after she had been injected with anaesthetic, the woman was questioned by the dentist as to whether she was taking medication. She advised informed dentist that she is taking her HIV medication. At this point in time the dentist withdrew his service raising his perceived concerns regarding contamination.

The woman at the centre of the case said: “I felt embarrassed, ashamed and I was really stressed and very anxious. Playing the whole scenario in my head again made me feel a kind of rejection. I went in confident thinking they knew my status and it was okay for them to help me, but after what happened it has had a huge impact on my self-esteem. It took me back to the time when I first found out about my HIV status. The woman added: “I had no idea that what they had done was wrong until after speaking to my doctor. I feel like going to the WRC helped me, as I believe the clinic is now aware that their conduct towards me was wrong. I feel better hoping they will not treat anyone that way, not only because they agreed compensate me, but also because staff will receive awareness training.”

The dental clinic, as part of the settlement, will implement an appropriate company policy that reflects their commitment to equality and will ensure that comparable incidents do not arise in the future. The dental clinic will also conduct equality and diversity, including HIV, training to its staff.

The woman in question will also withdraw her discrimination case under the Equal Status Act which she had brought to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

HIV Ireland stated, in relation to the case: “Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Some dentists and dental services continue to refuse treatment to people living with HIV, incorrectly believing that there are special places to treat people who are HIV positive.”

Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Emily Logan stated: “Dentists, just like other service providers are obliged to meet the commitments of the Equal Status Acts which protects people against discrimination. The clear message from this settlement is discrimination of this nature is not acceptable and should be challenged.”

€60k Caesarean Section Accident Compensation Sought by Boy (15) Due to Cheek Scar


15-year-old Rory Saunders has taken a €60,000 birth injury compensation action against the master of the National Maternity Hospital and Dr Stephen Carroll, the surgeon who performed the Cesarean section procedure as he medical negligence at childbirth inflicted him with a cut on his cheek.

Rory’s legal representative Barrister Mark O’Connell informed  Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that his (Rory’s) cheek was cut when he was being delivered by Cesarean Section on September 9, 2003.

O’Connell told the judge that the Caesarean delivery injury compensation action as Rory’s left cheek was cut by the scalpel used in the clinical procedure that Dr Carroll carried out. After the clinical procedure was completed the cut was cleaned out  and Steri-Strips were put implemented.

Rory’s permanent 2.5cm cheek scar can be seen when standing close by to him and is more visible during the summertime. The cheek scar has become stressful for Rory as he has been on the receiving end of negative comments during school and among his friends.

The claims were not accepted by Dr Carroll, who is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and an expert in high-risk pregnancies, and the National Maternity Hospital. Plastic surgeon Matt McHugh said that they were of the opinion that the scar was not going to improve in the future.

Judge Groarke considered the medical reports provided by two eminent consultants into court and was also told that a birth injury compensation offer of €25,000 had been put on the table.

He (Judge Groarke) said he was not happy with the compensation offer before the court. he was of the opinion that one of the medical reports appeared to give “a very blunt view” on the injury. He felt this particular expert, who had not seen his colleague’s medical report before formulating an opinion, should be asked to review the other medical report.

The birth injury compensation proceedings were adjourned until such time as the authors of the reports can reconsider the facts.

€268m Compensation Pay Outs for Medical Negligence State Claims Agency in last Two Years


€268m was paid out in compensation related to medical negligence and hospital negligence in last 24 months by the State Claims Agency (SCA).

A response to a Dáil question included previously unreleased figures in relation to this. Minister for Health Simon Harris said the figures show that the amount of of compensation paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in 2018 was €268.45m in relation to hospital and medical negligence cases – an surge of €18.6 million – or 7.5% – on the €249.77m paid out in 2017. This means that the entire amount of compensation for hospital and medical negligence handed over in 2017-18 to €518.2m.

The Dáil Question was submitted by Michael McGrath T.D., Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman. The response also revealed that the highest sum handed over in 2018 for was €15.5m to a person suffering with cerebral palsy since birth.

Medical Negligence compensation claims take with regard to birth/pregnancy negligence or cerebral palsy were responsible for seven of the top ten hospital or medical negligence compensation awards during 2018. The figures reveal that, in the 7 cerebral palsy legal compensation actions, a complete amount of €60.3m compensation was awarded in order for adequate treatment to be provided for the people involved for the rest of their lives.

The other slots in the top ten were cases where a compensation award of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery was paid out and a separate payout of €5.9m in similar circumstances.

The lowest amount of medical negligence injury compensation awarded in the top ten was €4.37m relating to a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology sector.

Whiplash Rear End Collision Injuries Compensation of €60,000 Awarded to Girl (31)


Karen Brown (31) settled a €60,000 whiplash rear end collision injuries compensation claim against a motorist from Dun Laoghaire, in relation a rear end collision incident that occurred almost two years ago.

Ms Brown was travelling in car owned by her partner Pete Taylor on March 5 2017 when a car owned by Enda Curran car crashed into them at Upper Glenageary Road, Co Dublin. Ms Brown’s legal counsel, Barrister Paul Gallagher, told Circuit Court President Justice Raymond Groarke that a settlement had been agreed in her (Ms Brown’s) car accident compensation claim after negotiations with Mr Curran’s legal representatives and could be dismissed with an order for her legal expenses.

The Court was not informed if a similar whiplash compensation injury compensation claim had been lodged on behalf of Mr Taylor’s, who was driving the car that Ms Brown was travelling in at the time of the accident. Exact details of the settlement were not made available.

Mr Taylor accompanied Ms Brown throughout the settlement talks outside Circuit Civil Court No 28. Ms Brown alleged in her legal action that Enda Curran, of Highthorn Park, Dunlaoghaire, had shown a negligent attitude to driving when he crashed into the back of Mr Taylor’s vehicle in which she was a passenger.

She told the Judge that she had experienced whiplash injuries to her neck, shoulders and back and that pain had not subsided with the aid of painkillers. Due to this she attended to Dr Peter Joyce on May 25 at Beechlawn Medical Centre. Here the doctor said that she was suffering due to having some tenderness to her neck and upper back. Dr Joyce had prescribed her a course of anti-inflammatory tablets. However,  but by early June she had noticed that the pain in her neck was only getting worse and that she was experiencing a constant dull ache with sharp headaches.

Brown claimed in her whiplash car crash legal action that she had been unable to work out due to the pain, something that she had done on a regular basis before the accident. An MRI of her cervical spine had been conducted and, following this, she had been advised that she should be seen by specialists.

Judge Groarke struck out the proceedings with an order for Ms Brown’s legal costs to be paid.