Six figure compensation for facial nerve damage after ear reconstruction

Our client was born with a congenital defect of his right ear. He had undergone ear reconstruction surgery as a child and following persistent discharge from his right ear as an adult, the Defendant surgeon suggested a series of reconstructive procedures. Following the third procedure, our client was unable to close his right eye on waking up from the anaesthetic. Our client was referred to a consultant plastic surgeon who found evidence of severe right facial nerve palsy and the inability to close his eyelid. He required a gold weight to be inserted into his right eyelid in order to assist with the closure but still felt that he was still unable to close his eye. The claim was brought on three bases: that our client did not give informed consent, as he was not advised as to the risk of a post-operative facial palsy; that the surgery was not carried out to a reasonably competent standard, because the surgeon had cut the facial nerve; and that the post-operative care in identifying the facial palsy and treating it thereafter fell below a reasonably competent standard, principally based on the length of time that it took for the Defendant to acknowledge and act on the condition.

The surgery that was the subject of this claim is highly specialist with only a handful of surgeons in the country who perform the procedure. We overcame challenges to find an independent expert who could give evidence as to the standard of the procedure, challenged the neutrality of the Defendant’s own expert, and secured a compensation payment from the Defendant that allowed our client to have further surgery, specialist lenses and botox surgery to improve the symmetry of his face. The client was very pleased with the outcome:

Natalie really helped me through a difficult time dealing with all aspects of my case. I wasn’t very keen to pursue it initially because of the complexity but she gave me plenty of support. I really wanted to know what exactly happened during my surgery…the chances of knowing were slim, but with the help of Natalie we got some clarity on what may have happened. It ended with a great result and I was very pleased… Natalie really pushes to get results and she has proven me wrong when initially I was hesitant in pursuing the case! Thanks for everything you did Natalie, [this] meant a lot.