A businesswoman, Penny Johnson, has been awarded £6m in compensation for negligent plastic surgery that left her permanently disfigured. Leeds-based plastic surgeon Dr Le Roux Fourie, who admitted liability, was said by Mrs Johnson to have decided to “play God” with her life by carrying out experimental surgery.
The surgery, carried out in 2003 when Mrs Johnson was 41, left her with “complete right-sided facial palsy” and unable to close the right eye or control food when eating on the right side. Surgery to her breasts also left Mrs Johnson with the left breast higher than the right and an odd shape with unsightly lumpy scarring. These physical injuries resulted in anxiety and depression, affected her relationship with her husband and her ability to run the business.
Mrs Johnson was awarded a total of £80k in general damages, with the remainder of the £6m compensation relating to loss of earnings. The original claim, based on the projected turnover of BCL, the software business set up by Mrs Johnson and her husband in 1998, was for £66m. Mrs Johnson claimed that the business was on the verge of rapid expansion. Mr Justice Foskett, however, questioned the feasibility of such growth. An expansion of the business would have required new management and staff and Mrs Johnson’s evidence highlighted the “difficulty in recruiting managers of the requisite calibre”. Foskett J decided that Mrs Johnson’s financial predictions were unrealistic. Colum Smith, of McMillan Williams, acting for Mrs Johnson, said: “My client has been through hell and back…issues remain outstanding and she is likely to appeal the judge’s decision.”