Personal Injury News

11-year legal battle ends in compensation payout for husband

A grief-stricken husband has won £2.6m damages in a High Court claim on behalf of his wife who was left severely brain-damaged after an anaesthetic accident.

Former city financial analyst Christine Darley-Jones' heart stopped after she was anaesthetised for a minor investigatory operation on her throat at private St Anthony's Hospital, Cheam, in March 1994.

After battling for almost 11 years following the incident, carried out by anaesthetist Dr Stanley Ling, Tony Darley-Jones, 76, has finally won a payout that will pay for care at a charity care home.

No claim was made against St Anthony's, but Second World War navy veteran Mr Darley-Jones argued that resuscitation equipment was not made available quickly enough during the incident.

Although Dr Ling and his lawyers refused to accept liability, at a previous hearing they agreed to settle 72.5 per cent of the claim and last Thursday the amount was settled by Mr Justice Pincher.

He praised Mr Darley-Jones' devotion to his totally dependant wife, 56, formerly a high-flyer at Croydon finance firm BDO Binder Hamlyn and a Freeman of the City of London.

She is now fed through tubes and completely unable to communicate, with about three-quarters of her brain irreparably brain-damaged.

Adrian Hopkins QC, for Dr Ling, expressed his client's regret for the tragedy - but Mr Darley-Jones, emotionally exhausted by the long legal battle, remained unforgiving.

He told the Advertiser: "I cannot forgive. It would have been better if we had both died on that fateful day.

"Christine is as good as dead. I am 20 years older than her, suffering from diabetes and Parkinson's disease and will probably not live for much longer."

The settlement after a long battle means there is money to provide for her care at the Home and Hospital for Incurables in Upper Norwood, where she is now.

Her room has furniture from the couple's home in Wallington, which Mr Darley-Jones sold to move to a flat nearer his wife.

He added: "Going in every day, trying to talk to her, sing to her, listen to the incomprehensible noises, where there was once her side of stimulating conversation, breaks my heart as I remember her as she was - before she walked into the operating theatre a vivacious, witty woman suffering a troublesome cough.

"She would not have wanted to live as she is now."

Doctors at the The Royal Hospital for Neurodisability at Putney, where Christine was later treated, said damage was too severe for any improvement.

Mr Darley-Jones also faced massive legal bills - but has been helped by solicitor Nick Knowles who agreed to fight the case for him on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Mr Darley-Jones said: "I am very grateful to him for this and all his support."

southlondonnews 22/11/04



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