Hawke's Bay couple win eight-year ACC battle

Graeme Thompson, from Hastings, has won his appeal against ACC, after eight years.
SUPPLIED

Graeme Thompson, from Hastings, has won his appeal against ACC, after eight years.

A couple who have been fighting for eight years to be awarded compensation from ACC have won their appeal. 

Hawke's Bay man Graeme Thompson, 66, suffered complications from cardiac surgery in 2009. 

After the operation he was left with delirium, and subsequently suffered memory loss, depression and fits of anger.

He had to stop work and eventually went on an invalid benefit. 

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Thompon's wife, Lorraine van Leeuwen-Thompson, also had to cut back on work to care for him. 

"His health was so poor I had to keep taking time off, and when it become evident he had severe cognitive problems I could not leave him," she said. 

The pair tried to claim compensation from ACC for the complications in 2010, but were turned down twice. 

Numerous doctors argued for and against the idea that circulation to Thompson's brain during the operation was impaired, causing him to suffer a brain injury. 

ACC declined their application, as it could not be established that Thompson's symptoms were a direct result of the surgery, because he had a pre-exisiting medical condition. 

The case was reviewed twice, once unsuccessfully in the District Court and then successfully in the High Court. 

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The couple received the good news two days just before Christmas. 

"Two days before Christmas I was in the bank and I saw an email from my barrister come through. I opened it quickly and it said, 'I have got a very good Christmas present, Graeme has won his appeal'. 

"We couldn't believe it," she said. 

The pair are now seeking costs for their loss of earnings, medical bills and legal fees. 

"We have had to use all of our savings, we are on a very limited budget," van Leeuwen-Thompson said.

"We don't know what kind of sums we are getting because Graeme was self-employed. There is quite a lot of water to go under the bridge yet." 

District Court Judge Denese Henare, who oversaw the appeal, concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, Thompson suffered an injury which was not an "ordinary consequence of the treatment". 

 - Stuff

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