Actual Cases

The following are actual cases handled by our firm; the names of those involved have been changed to ensure confidentiality.

Medical Liability: Simon suffers from spastic quadriparesia, a form of cerebral palsy due to the lack of oxygen he suffered at birth. This condition is at the origin of multiple and various health problems affecting his development at all levels, and making him totally dependent on the help of his parents for his life during. Immediately after his birth, Simon’s parents questioned the causes of asphyxia he had suffered. Dissatisfied with the answers received from the doctor who had carried out the delivery, they took the decision to consult a lawyer. The hospital record of Simon was studied with attention to detail. Medical experts were selected and confirmed the obstetrician doctor had not recognized the signs of fetal distress of Simon before his birth, and had failed to respond properly and effectively. A lawsuit was brought by Simon and his parents. A settlement out of court was finally reached for the damage experienced and expected by Simon and his parents throughout their lives.

Hospital Liability: Having received a diagnosis of breast cancer, Diane has undergone a mastectomy as well as an operation to remove a ganglion in his right armpit to check if the cancer had not expanded. Following the intervention, Diane learned that the collected ganglion had never been received in the laboratory, having been lost in unexplained circumstances. As a result, she had to undergo a second operation, more invasive than the first one, consisting of a chain of lymph node sampling. This new intervention has been the source of stress for Diane and her husband. It caused her heart ailments, for which a follow-up in cardiology was required. It also showed pain and limitations at the level of her right arm, for which Diane had to undergo physiotherapy. Consequently, she is at risk of suffering from swelling in her arm. Diane took the decision to institute a claim against the hospital for poor management of the specimens in an operating room, and for breach of its duty of security. An out-of-court settlement was reached including compensation for the loss of quality of life that she and her husband have suffered.

Consent to care: Carlos was suffering from cancer taking the form of a tumor in his leg. Believing strongly in the virtues of alternative medicine, he made the choice to heal through plants and fast. Having not eaten for a few days, he observed results he deemed satisfactory. Brought against his will to the hospital, because health services feared for his life, he refused the traditional treatment proposed with potassium supplements. He underwent a psychiatric evaluation by the health care team, who wished to verify his capacity to consent to the suggested treatment or to refuse it. Despite the inability of the psychiatrist to conclude to Carlos’ incapacity to refuse care, judicial proceedings were brought within the emergency department in order to force Carlos to submit himself to treatment. Carlos disputed the judicial query with energy, knowing himself perfectly sane. The procedure was ultimately abandoned by the hospital, forced to admit that Carlos was entitled to be treated as he sees. Carlos’ wishes and his right to the integrity of his person and to self-determination were therefore respected.

Medical Negligence: Roger is a 73-year-old man who suffers from chronic rheumatism in his left knee. To counteract this problem, he is referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The latter advises him to install a prosthetic knee. The surgeon knows about the vascular problems suffered by Roger and the risks that would arouse a surgery, but he fails to inform him. Roger agrees to undergo the procedure, having full confidence in his surgeon. A few days later, the surgery is performed, without Roger being previously reviewed by his surgeon or by a vascular surgeon, and despite contraindications revealed by x-ray examinations. In the hours following the intervention, Roger feels pain in his left knee and complains to the healthcare team. The next day, the nurse notes a change from heat, color, mobility and sensitivity of Roger’s left foot. The latter is then examined by the orthopedic surgeon, and then a vascular surgeon, and finally transported in emergency to another hospital. He is then diagnosed with vascular compression for which no solution in found in the hours and days that follow. Roger finally has to undergo the amputation of his left leg above the knee. He must undergo a long rehabilitation, move in a wheelchair in the future, and find a more suitable accommodation, in addition to adaptation to his new condition of a handicapped person. His physical and moral suffering is such that he decides to sue in liability the orthopedic surgeon for the damages resulting from the amputation. He blames the surgeon for practicing inappropriate surgery without screenings necessary, without informing him of the risks, and for failing to provide adequate post-operative follow-up. Two years after the institution of the claim, an out of court settlement is reached between the estate of Roger, who has died from health complications, and the insurer of his surgeon.

Civil Liability: Claire is a woman in her forties, active and healthy. On a beautiful winter day, she decides to go have coffee with a friend. When entering the trade, she sets foot on a patch of ice hidden under a layer of snow. She falls and severely injures her hip. Transported by ambulance, she must undergo surgery in emergency, the same day. A few days later, she obtains her leave, but must then undergo a series of painful treatments. For several months, she is prevented from working and is limited in her movements. The spouse of Claire is forced to be absent from work, and must take care of her daily. Claire and her husband decide to institute legal proceedings against the trade where it fell, responsible for the maintenance of its property. The case is set out of court quickly enough. Claire and her husband get compensation up to the damages they have suffered.

Respect for the person’s wishes: At 84, Mary is curious and involved in a number of activities. She has noticed that she is slowing down—she forgets names and dates, walks more slowly, and sometimes has to ask for help—but is still sharp and very capable of enjoying life. Mary decided to write a will and divide her assets, her home and bank investments, among her children and grandchildren. Her friends suggested that she also have a mandate in case of incapacity. She wanted to appoint a good friend instead of her children, who are all very busy. When the time came to sign the mandate at the notary’s office, her children questioned her capacity to sign the notarial act. Mary was forced to obtain a medical certificate attesting to her capacity to mandate the person of her choice, despite her age and forgetfulness. She obtained a medical report, which proved invaluable in helping her make sure her wishes were respected.

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