Friday, 19 July, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalAttorney must personally pay for hospital staff's hostage trauma

Attorney must personally pay for hospital staff's hostage trauma

The Durban High Court has awarded damages to two Life Westville Hospital staff who were held hostage – one was shot twice – by a gun-wielding mentally ill patient in April 2012.

Ironically, their former attorney will be forking out the money for the damages awarded after he failed to implement instructions to institute legal action against the hospital, or to deliver the summons, causing the plaintiffs’ claims to prescribe.

Nkosinathi Mngoma was ordered to pay the damages to the two after default judgment was earlier granted against him when he failed to defend the actions brought against him by the plaintiffs for professional negligence, reports The Star.

Armed gunman

The court heard that the gun-toting patient had run into the hospital demanding to see a doctor – and ended up in an office with four hostages, two of them being the plaintiffs, Khulile Mngadi and Khonani Nyawose, who were employed to see to patients’ dietary requirements.

The gunman made them all lie on the floor and fired a shot, with shrapnel striking Mngadi in the buttock and foot. The gunmen then made her call a number and when the call was unsuccessful, he shot her in the arm.

Although the man released the second plaintiff, and then another two hostages, the first plaintiff remained in his custody until a police sniper killed him by shooting him in the head.

The two staffers sought to sue the hospital and approached the defendant, instructing him to institute legal action against the facility, which he failed to do.

They then sued him for professional negligence. He failed to defend the claims and was absent from all court proceedings.

Both plaintiffs subsequently claimed the damages they would have been able to claim from the hospital: general damages for pain and suffering, emotional shock and stress amounting to R700 000, future medical treatment in the form of psychotherapy for general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in the amount of R56 000, and R71 000 for psychiatric care and related in-hospital treatment.

The court awarded R325 000 to Mngadi for general damages for emotional shock and trauma and a further R127 000 for future medical expenses. Nyawose will receive R210 000 for trauma and R127 000 for future medical expenses.

 

The Star PressReader article – Workers awarded damages after hospital hostage trauma (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Police officer and two patients dead after Cape Town hospital shooting

 

Hospitals of fear: Police and guards ‘run away’ during attacks on patients

 

Bara condolences to family of man killed by psych patient

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