No more ACC for woman who gave birth after a botched sterilisation

Court of Appeal president Stephen Kos disagreed with the other two judges, and would have allowed the mother's appeal ...
PHIL REID/STUFF

Court of Appeal president Stephen Kos disagreed with the other two judges, and would have allowed the mother's appeal for accident compensation. (File photo)

A woman whose sterilisation procedure was botched has failed to get accident compensation while she brings up a child born about eight years later.

The woman, whose name and previous occupation were suppressed, was given accident compensation cover for the pregnancy, childbirth and physical recovery from childbirth, amounting to about 10 weeks in all.

Since then she has been receiving a single parent's benefit while she cares for the child. She would have received more money if she qualified for weekly earnings-related ACC payments.

The woman was seven months pregnant before she discovered the reason for her sudden weight gain. (File photo)
ISTOCK

The woman was seven months pregnant before she discovered the reason for her sudden weight gain. (File photo)

However, in a decision issued on Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled in a majority decision that she was not entitled to ACC.

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The woman had the sterilisation procedure in 1998. In 2006 she was surprised to learn she was seven months pregnant.

A woman raising a child alone would have got more money from weekly ACC compensation than she did on a solo parent's ...
ERIN JONASSON

A woman raising a child alone would have got more money from weekly ACC compensation than she did on a solo parent's benefit. (File photo)

Clips that should have been attached to the fallopian tube during the sterilisation procedure had been attached to part of her bladder instead.

ACC refused her claim, and the case has gone through several reviews and appeals already, in a case that began in Otago.

In the latest decision, two judges in the Court of Appeal dismissed her appeal. They said medical assessments were at the core of ACC decisions and, once the pregnancy was over, the woman was "recovered" and able to return to work.

"The barrier to her returning to employment is not any ongoing personal injury to herself, but the existence of a child following her pregnancy," Justice Mark Cooper and Justice Raynor Asher said in their decision.

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ACC was focused on medical barriers to employment, the judges said.

In those circumstances, it was not possible to say the woman was unable to work because of the personal injury, which had been the pregnancy.

The third judge, Court of Appeal president Justice Stephen Kos, disagreed with the decision of the other two.

He thought the woman was entitled to compensation for incapacity so long as the need to care for the child stopped her returning to work. The body was healed but the incapacity for work continued.

The woman was in unusual and unfortunate circumstances, with no help from the father of the child, no family willing to help with child care, and the only work she could get was at the lowest rates, so she was not able to afford to pay for child care, he said.

 - Stuff

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