Moral Damages Award by the Piraeus Administrative Court of Appeal in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Following a diagnosis of multinodular goiter, a 17 year old girl was admitted to a specialized public hospital for a thyroidectomy operation. During the surgery, she suffered unilateral vocal chord paralysis, which resulted to a change in the girl’s voice timber and volume. Pavlakis – Moschos & Associates filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the public hospital on behalf of the 17 year old girl, claiming for moral damages and for special compensation under article 931 of the Greek Civil Code.

The Piraeus Administrative First Instance Court held that the damage to the vocal cords of the patient has been the result of medical negligence, and particularly the surgeon’s negligent failure to identify and preserve the vocal chords during the operation. The Court (Decision No. 2023/2010) awarded moral damages to the victim for the psychological distress suffered as a result of the injury, as well as special compensation under article 931 of Greek Civil Code for physical deformation and impairment, on the basis that the change in the girl’s voice timber and volume will have an adverse effect on her personal, social and economic development which although not specifically quantifiable in terms of economic loss, should be compensated.

An appeal was filed against the decision of the Court of First Instance by both parties. The Piraeus Administrative Court of Appeal, by means of decision no. 2098/2013, upheld the judgment of the Court of First Instance as far as liability of the operating doctors was concerned, and doubled the amount awarded on the basis of article 931 of the Greek Civil Code.