Tummy tuck op gone wrong leaves woman poorer after judge slashes payout
THINGS have not ended up well for the Pretoria woman who thought that having a tummy tuck operation would make her look slimmer and improve happiness levels.
Not only has Juliana Joubert had to live with complications following the operation, the Pretoria High Court has now slashed the cash it had previously ordered that she receive.
To add insult to injury, Joubert will receive less than what the doctor she had sued, had offered as a settlement.
The surgeon, Dr André Meyer last year offered Joubert a settlement of R480 000, although he made it clear at the time that he was not accepting any liability or wrongdoing on his part.
Joubert refused the settlement and insisted on more than R2 million.
After awarding her R418 000, the matter was back in court this week, as it appeared that the judge had made a mistake with his calculations.
He awarded individual amounts for, among others, general damages and for future medical expenses.
If all the amounts were calculated, it came to R390 000 – R28 000 less than he initially calculated.
Acting Judge George Avvakoumides rectified the calculation mistake but he had more bad news for Joubert.
The judge previously ordered that the doctor had to foot the entire legal bill for the trial, including the fees for the experts.
This time around the judge decided that Joubert should pay the legal costs from the point when she refused the specialist’s settlement offer to her.
The judge said he was entitled by law to rethink his costs order and he now decided that there was no need for the trial to continue after the settlement offer and thus the doctor should not be out of pocket for that portion.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, earlier this year ordered that Meyer had to pay 50-year-old Joubert R418 000 in damages following her ordeal in 2011. Joubert had told the court that she was not only left with scarring, she also had to undergo two further operations as the wound after the first operation would not heal.
According to her, by the third operation she felt she was not “going to make it”.
Joubert testified that when she initially consulted Meyer, she was overweight and she suffered from high blood pressure. He told her to come back after her blood pressure had normalised.
She later returned to him as she was positive about the operation. According to her, the doctor told her she would look pretty again after the procedure.
Her mother-in-law also had a tummy tuck years ago by the same doctor.
Two years after she consulted Meyer, she returned and he performed the operation, which she was told would last two and a half hours.
But four and a half hours later she woke up in theatre.
She said Meyer told her that he had removed 4kg of fat.
She was told the next day that she could go home. The stitches were removed 18 days later. Joubert returned to the doctor after 50 days when the wound did not heal.
She was told that Meyer had a heart attack and that a reconstructive surgeon would take care of her.
The first operation the specialist performed was not a success as she had two “holes” next to each other, which became one big hole.
Joubert had to undergo yet another operation where skin, obtained from the University of Pretoria, was placed over the wound. This also did not work, as the “date on the skin had lapsed”.
New skin was obtained and placed over the wound.
Joubert said the wound only healed after six months.
Joubert blamed her ordeal on Meyer and said he should have given her information about the possible consequences of the initial operation.