Court sides with defendant in medical negligence case

Date: Oct 04, 2018

In a court of law, it's not overly common for a plaintiff to leave with orders to pay the defendant's costs – after all, they were the one seeking the initial application. However, like the below case demonstrates, this outcome can occur, and often comes with surprising twists.

Background of the case

The plaintiff alleged that the defendant, a medical professional, had been negligent towards her and breached his contract.

In the events leading up to the plaintiff meeting the defendant, she had suffered a variety of mental health issues from a very young age. Between the years of 1969 and 1971, there were six suicide attempts and various hospital admissions. In 1971, she was diagnosed as manic depressive and having bipolar active disorder (BAD). It was around this time that the plaintiff became an alcoholic, which she claims was a coping mechanism for her depression.

After a stint of sobriety and counselling, in 1986, the plaintiff attempted to once again take her own life, which led to involuntary admission to the former Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital in Melbourne.

Things continued to get worse for the plaintiff and her mental wellbeing. On 30 October 2005, a close friend took his own life. It was that death that prompted her to seek a referral to a specialist psychiatrist (the defendant).

First encounter with the defendant

The plaintiff first met with the defendant in 2006, and 1 August 2013 was when the last recorded prescription was written by the psychiatrist to the plaintiff.

However, during this time, the plaintiff claims the defendant continuously breached his duty of care by failing to advise the plaintiff of medication risks, prescribing the wrong medication and not obtaining the plaintiff's consent.

The court was overwhelmed with medical reports and conflicting evidence, especially concerning the plaintiff. While the defendant prescribed a range of drugs that may not have all been needed, the interference from the plaintiff's alcohol addiction and the significant side effects from her bipolar disorder were highly noted. She was also deemed an unreliable witness as she changed her evidence multiple times. In regards to claiming specific damages, the plaintiff failed to establish them – showcasing her lack of commitment to the case.

With that, the court asked the defendant if he was looking to seek costs for his troubles. After replying 'yes', the court ordered the plaintiff to pay the appropriate costs.

Cases like the above highlight just how difficult it can be to gain success – even when you're confident in your claims. This is why it pays to enlist the help of expert lawyers. Get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to see how we can assist you.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts or email your enquiry.