Pretoria - A former police officer whose finger was amputated after he was bitten by a suspect while on duty, received the go-ahead to continue with his claim against a medical group and several doctors.
Molalose Ishmael claimed more than R2 million from the Meredale Medical Centre, based on alleged negligence and breach of legal duty. He blamed the doctors who had treated him for the fact that his finger had to be amputated.
The hospital group and the doctors, however, earlier asked the court to reject his claim, as it was instituted outside the time frame in which he was allowed to claim damages.
The Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, granted the application, which meant that Ishmael could not continue with his claim. However, he has successfully appealed against that ruling and he will thus be able to take the matter further.
Ishmael’s claim followed an incident in July 2015 when a suspect had bitten the little finger on his right hand while he was assisting a prison warden.
He was first treated at Meredale Medical Centre and then transferred to Netcare Garden City Hospital for further treatment. He was informed at Netcare that the previous treating doctors misdiagnosed him, and that there was no further treatment that could be performed except to amputate his finger.
As a result, in December 2015, his small finger was amputated at Netcare.
Ishmael issued summons against the Meredale Medical Centre in June 2018, claiming R1.7m for general damages, R150 000 for past and future medical and related expenses, and R200 000 for past and future loss of earnings.
He said his misfortune was due to the alleged negligence and breach of legal duty by the Meredale Medical Centre treating doctors. The medical centre, however, served him with a special plea, alleging that the treating doctors were not employed by it.
Ishmael brought an application to join the doctors who treated him as additional defendants in the main action and all the defendants subsequently filed notices that they would oppose the claims as well as the joinder application.
Their attorneys also served a special plea of prescription of the claim, in which they said that the treatment Ishmael received from them was rendered in July and August 2015. They relied on the prescription act and pleaded that his claim for damages against them had lapsed in August 2018.
But the court, in looking at the various time frames, found that the claim had not lapsed in law and that the high court was wrong in finding this. Three judges upheld the appeal, which means that Ishmael can go ahead with his application to try to recover damages for his missing finger.