Roger Johnson v Andrew Williams
The Facts: the Claimant was playing for Charlton Athletic. In January 2017, during a training session, he suffered a meniscal tear to his left knee, which was repaired by the Defendant, a specialist knee surgeon. The knee subsequently showed signs of infection and he was advised to have urgent surgery to remove the infective material, which the Defendant carried out on 17 March 2017.
The Allegations: It was the Claimant’s case that (i) in the course of the 17 March surgery the Defendant negligently caused a 3cm hole to the soft tissue structure in the joint, known as the retinaculum (ii) this was a career ending injury as a professional footballer.
The Defence: it was the Defendant’s case that (i) the retinaculum is a robust tissue and would require persistence to shave through it and yet there was no evidence of this or of the use of excessive force; (ii) if a defect to the retinaculum had been caused during surgery, it would have been immediately obvious with clear evidence of fluid and immediate swelling, none of which were noted to have been present.
Judgment: at trial, Jeremy Hyam QC, sitting as a deputy judge, concluded that, “the evidence adduced by the Claimant and his expert has not been sufficiently cogent or compelling to allow me to conclude on the balance of probabilities that the Defendant caused a 3cm diameter defect to the Claimant’s medial retinaculum on 17th March 2017…”. In finding for the Defendant he accepted the Defendant’s arguments and in particular was persuaded by the fact that a very experienced surgeon would have had to repeatedly use his shaver in order to create a 3cm defect.
Comment: As soon as we carried out our initial investigations of the claim and met with the Defendant we felt strongly that this was a claim to defend. We prepared the case thoroughly with detailed factual and expert evidence and are very pleased to have been able to successfully defend the claim. Tania Kahlon, the solicitor representing the Defendant said, “I am delighted for Mr Williams with this outcome. His defence was supported by the independent orthopaedic evidence of Mr Sanjay Anand, and I am very pleased that the judge found in his favour. It was a pleasure to support Mr Williams throughout the Court process and to have maintained his leading reputation in the field.”.