Out of court settlement for lawyer left infertile by error at Homerton Hospital

Sarah Marquis, photo Brent Council

Sarah Marquis, photo Brent Council - Credit: Archant

A high-flying lawyer, whose dreams of motherhood were devastated by botched hospital treatment has come to an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with Homerton Hospital.

City lawyer Sarah Marquis, 41, was “rendered infertile” when her appendix burst in 2008, and was claiming £1.5m in damages when the matter came to the High Court in March.

She claimed medics at Hackney’s Homerton Hospital failed to spot in time that the organ needed emergency removal.

Ms Marquis, who specialised in investigating white collar crime, said that as well as blighting her hopes of having a family, the after-effects of the blunder forced her to take three and a half years off work, and ruined her chances of fulfilling her career potential.

Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability for her injuries and had publicly apologised to her – but its lawyers disputed how much compensation she deserved, putting the figure at about £300,000.

They insisted had she not become infertile, her career would have been hampered by the children she would otherwise have had.

Judge Robert Owen QC heard that Ms Marquis, of Riverside Close, Lower Clapton, was admitted to the hospital after going to her GP, complaining of abdominal pain, in October 2008.

Most Read

However no emergency action was taken for three days – during which time she was treated with painkillers – before surgeons decided she needed her appendix removed. By that time the organ was gangrenous and perforated and had burst, causing a grave abdominal infection.

That ended her hopes of naturally conceiving a child with her partner of more than a decade.

Her counsel, Cara Guthrie, told the judge: “Had it not been for the negligence of the defendants, Ms Marquis’ appendix would not have perforated.

“She would have made a rapid and uncomplicated recovery, avoiding an extended hospital stay, and she would not have been rendered infertile.”

Ms Marquis was earning £85,000 with City law firm, DLA Piper, at the time she fell ill.

She claimed that, but for the hospital’s negligence, she would have shortly moved from London to earn much more working for a US firm.

However the trust’s barrister, Bradley Martin, insisted that Ms Marquis’s burning wish for a family would have overridden her desire to progress her career.

Had she not become infertile, she would swiftly have become pregnant and childcare would have impacted on her working life, he argued.

The court heard that Ms Marquis has undergone IVF – so far unsuccessfully.

Following the hearing in March, the court reserved its decision on the case and a judgement was expected this month. But both parties agreed a deal out of court. Homerton Hospital would not disclose the figure.