Koppula v The Royal Women’s Hospital (Sandringham Hospital) [2023] VSC 544

In the matter of Koppula v The Royal Women’s Hospital (Sandringham Hospital) [2023] VSC 544, the self-represented plaintiff, Mr Anil Koppula, commenced court proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court against the defendant, The Royal Women’s Hospital (Sandringham Hospital), seeking damages for personal injuries and losses as a result of a psychiatric injuries suffered by him during his wife’s caesarean section delivery at the defendant hospital.  

The plaintiff alleged that he was encouraged, or permitted, to observe his wife’s caesarean section delivery of their baby. The plaintiff alleged that in the course of doing so, he saw his wife’s internal organs and blood, and that this experience caused the onset of a psychotic illness. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant breached a duty of care it owed to him. In his amended statement of claim dated 22 October 2022, the plaintiff assessed his damages for psychological injury at $1 billion. 

The defendant admitted that it owed the plaintiff a duty of care but denied that it had breached that duty of care and did not accept that the plaintiff had suffered any injury.  

Following an examination on 16 May 2023 by a medical panel, the panel  determined pursuant to Division 5 of Part VBA of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) that “…the degree of psychiatric impairment resulting from the injury to the claimant alleged in the claim does not satisfy the threshold level.” 

The defendant then applied to have the plaintiff’s proceeding summarily dismissed. The defendant relied on the provisions of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) that preclude the recovery of damages for non-economic loss unless an injury is a ‘significant injury’ as defined by the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) and the Limitation of Actions Act 1958.  

At [11], the Court provided that, pursuant to sections 28LZH(2) and 28 LZO of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic): 

  • The Medical Panel’s determination ‘must be accepted by a court in any proceeding … as a determination that the injury is not a significant injury’. I am satisfied that Mr Koppula is not able to agitate the correctness of its decision in this proceeding. 

The Court further provided at [12]: 

  • It is not necessary to consider the Hospital’s alternative arguments that the proceeding should be dismissed because it is it statute barred or that the pleadings should be struck out. 

Ultimately, on 12 September 2023, the Victorian Supreme Court (by Gorton J) dismissed the plaintiff’s claim on the basis that the legal effect of the medical panel’s determination was that the plaintiff is simply unable, as a matter of law, to recover damages for non-economic loss, and that the time limit in which the medical panel’s determination could be reviewed had lapsed.  

Emily Wright and our team are specialist personal injury lawyers who can assist you with your claim on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis. If you would like advice in relation to a personal injury claim, including a medical negligence claim, please reach out to Emily Wright and Littles Lawyers today. 

Further blogs in relation to medical negligence and personal injury claims written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website. 

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