Negligent ACL surgery ends promising football career

24 February 2022

It is not very often that a scout or a manager in any sport comes across an obviously prodigious young talent, but that was the case when the manager of a West Midlands Women’s League football club first met our young client.
Negligent ACL surgery ends promising football career

She had always been active and was passionate from a young age about playing and competing at the highest level she could reach in football. She had had trials with several other clubs including Aston Villa and such was her ability that our client, Miss R, was elevated to the senior team at the age of just 16. 

A promising future in the women’s game beckoned. However, those hopes were dashed following the alleged negligent surgery and post-operative care she received at a private hospital in Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield in 2015.

During a league game, Miss R was tackled by an opponent and she fell to the ground on her left knee. She was in such pain that she had to be carried off the pitch and substituted. Two days later, still in severe pain and using crutches, she saw her GP and was referred to a private hospital in Little Aston (under her mother’s private health plan), where she was seen by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in August 2015. 

She was diagnosed with a damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). A common injury in any contact sport, the ACL runs diagonally through the inside of the knee and gives the knee joint stability. It also helps to control the back-and-forth movement of the lower leg. Miss R agreed to the suggested ACL reconstruction surgery – a major procedure using keyhole or arthroscopic surgery carried out under general anaesthesia. 

The operation was performed in October 2015 and Miss R was followed up twice in November and December of that year. She was discharged in February 2016, having made what was claimed by the surgeon to be a ‘full recovery’. No follow-up scans of the affected knee were arranged prior to her discharge.

In August 2016 Miss R returned to pre-season training. From his experience of similar injuries to other players, her club manager expected her to regain her form and play for the team once she had recovered from the surgery. However, during this training session Miss R noticed that her knee was unstable and uncomfortable and felt like it was giving way. Concerned, she once again saw her GP who referred her to the orthopaedic clinic at the NHS Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. 

MRI scans taken in May 2017 showed that the ACL reconstruction surgery performed in 2015 was comprised due to the incorrect positioning of the femoral tunnel. This is a tunnel the surgeon drills in the bone to pass the new grafted ligament tissue through and should ideally be placed in the same position as the old, damaged, ligament.

Miss R underwent further surgery in November 2017 to examine her knee, prior to two more procedures in April and October 2018 that were required to repair the damage as well as undergoing several months of physiotherapy. 

With her dreams shattered and any future livelihood likely to be affected, the family were determined to gain some sort of recompense and justice for the months of unnecessary pain their daughter had endured. Searching for legal experts who could help them, they turned to Shoosmiths, already well known in the West Midlands as specialists in medical negligence claims against privatehospitals, thanks in part to the well-publicised work of the firm’s lawyers in the case of jailed Midlands breast surgeon, Ian Paterson

Miss R’s claim was handled by Sumit Morjaria, a senior associate solicitor specialising in medical negligence claims. Sumit investigated and pursued a claim in medical negligence against the surgeon, with the assistance of his legal team including an independent expert Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, specialising in sports injuries, and a specialist medical negligence barrister. Our independent expert was very critical of the ACL reconstruction surgery performed by the surgeon. He was further of the opinion that our client required immediate revision surgery to her ACL and will likely require a full knee replacement in the future.  

Liability was denied in full by the surgeon. However, following service of Court proceedings and exchange of the independent experts’ medical reports, the defendant-surgeon through his representatives agreed to settle the case before a trial. 

Miss R was awarded a substantial six-figure sum, which included compensation for her pain and suffering, the costs of past and future care and support, the costs of revision surgery at a private hospital, purchase of an automatic vehicle, and past and future loss of earnings. Our client was very pleased with the outcome as she now embarks on a new chapter in her life. She said:

“Sumit has been absolutely amazing throughout. His response time was fantastic, his professionalism and understanding of my case was second to none and most importantly, he made me feel comfortable and trusting throughout the process. He also ended up helping me out in my case with an extremely satisfactory outcome and I honestly couldn't have asked for better help, or a better solicitor to have supporting me throughout. I can't recommend Sumit highly enough and would 100% suggest his services to anyone else who needed support like I did.”

Sumit comments:

“Had the femoral tunnel not been incorrectly positioned (something that could have been identified if post-operative x-rays had been taken as per the British Orthopaedic Association’s ‘best practice’ guidance) the surgery would likely have been successful.  Instead, our client’s dream of a football career was not only cruelly ended, but she will also likely suffer left knee osteoarthritis requiring knee replacement surgery in the future.  It is hoped that the settlement will help her overcome the effects of her ongoing injuries and face any challenges in future with confidence.“



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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