Anil Koppula, an Australia man, accused a Melbourne hospital of causing him “psychotic illness” after he watched his wife undergo a cesarean section in 2018. He demanded $643 million from the hospital, though his child was successfully delivered through the procedure. Nevertheless, Mr. Koppula alleges that the hospital failed its duty of care to him by “encouraging” or “permitting” him to watch the operation.
Koppula alleges that seeing his wife’s organs and blood caused him psychological injury. He also claimed that seeing the operation lead to a “breakdown of his marriage.” Koppula chose to represent himself. A medical examination of Koppula indicated he did not suffer the degree of psychiatric impairment necessary to satisfy the legal requirements for psychiatric injury.
Justice James Gorton of the Supreme Court of Victoria dismissed the case on September 12, 2023. The judgment stated that lawsuits seeking damages for non-economic loss require significant injury, which Koppula had not proven in his case. Justice Gorton called the claim an “abuse of process.”
Can a Doctor or Hospital for Medical Malpractice for a Poorly Performed C-Section?
Cesarean sections, or C-sections, are common operations in which a surgeon delivers a baby through a cut into the mother’s womb. The surgery is often performed when vaginal birth would pose a risk to the mother or infant.
A medical team or hospital can be liable if either mother or baby is injured because of the physicians’ negligence during a C-section. Likewise, a physician can be liable if a reasonable doctor should have performed a cesarean section, but failed to do so. However, there must be an actual injury in order for a lawsuit to be valid. Such injuries may include losing the child or the mother’s life because of the procedure, or failure to perform the procedure.
Mr. Koppula, apparently, had a successful cesarean section performed on his wife. Both the mother and child lived and were healthy thereafter. Koppula claims his mental health and his marriage suffered because he witnessed the operation, but he does not allege that the operation itself was unsuccessful. Koppula only claims that he was traumatized by a successful surgery on his former spouse, but his complaint has nothing to do with the actual operation. It is therefore unsurprising that the court dismissed his case.
If Koppula’s case were to survive the dismissal, he would have to show that the C-section was failed in some manner. At some point, Koppula would have to demonstrate that either his wife or his child was scarred or disabled because of the operation. Perhaps such damage to his wife could have lead to a breakdown in his marriage. However, simply witnessing a common medical procedure would not convince a court that the lawsuit was meritorious; otherwise hospitals may be discouraged from performing what is otherwise a necessary medical operation.
Finally, Koppula’s claims are ultimately derivative of his wife or baby’s. If his wife or child, the actual subjects of the operation, weren’t injured, then Koppula himself probably didn’t have a viable claim. Koppula merely witnessed the operation; being a witness alone rarely justifies a
lawsuit absent an actual injured person. If someone sees their spouse hit by a car, it makes no sense for the witness to file a lawsuit without the injured spouse. The witnesses’ claim is ultimately subordinate to the actual victim and is lost without it. Koppula stood no chance with his claim unless his wife or child were involved.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help with a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice cases often involve serious injuries. You may want to consider hiring a skilled personal injury lawyer to handle your matter if you believe you have suffered injuries as a result of medical malpractice.
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