Case report – Cheltenham Vision Plus Limited (Trading as Specsavers Opticians) 24 Nov 2015

A, the Claimant received £170,000 in relation to a medical negligence claim arising from D’s failure to diagnose acute and treat acute angle glaucoma which resulted in significant loss of vision for A and led to her being registered partially sighted.

Background

A was born in 1943 was a patient of the Defendants optical practice Cheltenham Vision Plus Limited (trading as Specsavers Opticians) and had attended the practice regularly since 1997. She had been wearing glasses for many years to correct her vision and to enable her to watch TV and read the newspaper. The Claimant had a family history of glaucoma, her mother suffered from Glaucoma in the latter years of her life.

A therefore bought an action against the defendant for clinical negligence in failing to refer and/or failing to diagnose acute angle glaucoma.

A relied on expert evidence of a Optometrist and a Consultant Ophthalmologist pertaining to issues of breach of duty and causation. Both experts were supportive of a claim and maintained that if A had been referred to an Ophthalmologist by June 2005 when she presented with a visual field defect (she was suffering from the early stage of open angle glaucoma) she would have been treated accordingly and her visual impairment would have been limited. In fact, she would have had limited field loss in her left eye and her right eye had earlier treatment been initiated.

Prior to serving condition and prognosis expert evidence A was seen again by the Consultant Ophthalmologist and it was apparent that her visual field tests in each eye had not changed but subjectively her condition had deteriorated and as such her limitations were very severe and she needed help and assistance with most things. Experts on both sides of the case agreed that A would deserve full registration as a visually disabled person rather than a partially sighted person and that A would do well to remain stable and there was a 25% chance that the decay in her optic nerve head may be progressive.

Expert evidence was obtained from an independent care expert to comment on A’s care and case management needs and aids & appliances required. Essentially, the report revealed that the Claimants lifestyle had altered significantly as a result of her visual impairment and the deterioration in her sight. It also confirmed that A was also very anxious and had low mood and was fearful of physical activity because she felt this would damage her remaining sight. A report was also obtained from a consultant psychiatrist and this revealed that A suffered from recurrent depressive disorder and that her current depressive episode was moderate. CBT was the agreed prescribed treatment.

The Defendant’s expert Ophthalmologist evidence was broadly in agreement with A’s expert and he also suggested that A required 14 hours of care per week. The Defendant’s care expert did not agree and suggested that 4 hours of care a week was sufficient to meet A’s needs. The Defendant’s psychiatrist prepared a desk top report and diagnosed A with mild depressive disorder rather than Moderate Depressive disorder. The case was complicated in that A had a previous history of depression going back to the 1960’s but this had resolved with treatment in 2003.

Proceedings

Proceedings were issued on 31 January 2013 and served on the Defendants solicitors Weightmans LLP on 17 May 2013. Thereafter a Notice of Change of solicitor was filed on 6 November 2013 and Hill Dickinson took over the conduct of the matter from Weightmans LLP thereon. A Defence denying liability is dated 3 December 2013.

Directions were thereafter in place and a trial date was fixed for 12 – 14 October 2015 both parties complied with the directions, save that the Defendant’s solicitor did not serve liability expert evidence and their Counter Schedule of Loss and Damage was served 3 months out of time.

Experts’ discussions took place in August/September 2015 save that the Optometrist experts did not discuss the matter due to the defendant not serving their expert evidence.

A joint settlement meeting took place on 15 September 2015 and the Defendant made an opening offer of settlement in the sum of £100,000 this was rejected by A. A put forward a counter offer of £375,000 and this was rejected by the Defendant who put forward a further offer of £150,000 and this was rejected by A. Negotiations continued with A putting forward an offer of £250,00. This was rejected and the Defendant put forward a further offer of £170,000 that A accepted.

The offer was a global offer but can be broken down approximately as follows:

General damages £40,000
Past Special damages £10,000
Past care £25,000
Future Losses £ 5,000
Future Care £90,000

Stephanie Prior, Partner Osbornes Solicitors LLP for the Claimant
Ben Bradley, Counsel Outer Temple Chambers
Gordon Davidson, Partner Hill Dickinson for the Defendant
Charles Bagot, Counsel Hardwicke Buildings

To speak with Stephanie Prior about a possible medical negligence claim you can contact her on 020 7485 8811 or by e-mailing stephanieprior@osbornes.net

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