Case 02-10957

Cass civ I, n°02-10957, 7 December 2004
Download Judgment: English French
Country: France
Region: Europe
Year: 2005
Court: Cour de cassation [Court of Cassation]
Health Topics: Informed consent, Medical malpractice
Human Rights: Right of access to information
Tags: Compensation, Damages, Duty of care, Health care professionals, Informed choice, Patient choice, Remedies, Standard of care, Tort

After a tympanoplasty procedure provided by Dr. Y, Mrs. X suffered from partial facial paralysis. Mrs. X sought damages for the entire facial paralysis that she suffered, claiming that Dr. Y had violated the doctor’s duty to fully inform patients of the potential consequences of a medical procedure.

The lower court awarded Mrs. X damages, and Dr. Y appealed the decision.

The Court upheld the appeal and voided the lower court decision because that decision had awarded damages to Mrs. X for her entire facial paralysis. The Court reasoned that, where there has been a breach of the doctor's duty to inform, damages can be imposed only according to the loss of opportunity suffered by the patient by not having avoided the realized risk. In this case, while Dr. Y had breached his duty to inform Mrs. X of the potential for facial paralysis, he did not owe her damages to cover the entire cost of facial paralysis; damages had to be calculated solely on the basis of Mrs. X's lost opportunity to avoid the bodily harm she suffered.

"Attendu, cependant, que la violation d'une obligation d'information ne peut être sanctionnée qu'au titre de la perte de chance subie par le patient d'échapper par une décision peut être plus judicieuse, au risque qui s'est finalement réalisé et que le dommage correspond alors à une fraction des différents chefs de préjudice subis qui est déterminée en mesurant la chance perdue et ne peut être égale aux atteintes corporelles résultant de l'acte médical ; qu'en se déterminant ainsi, la cour d'appel a violé le texte susvisé." P. 1.

"Whereas, however, the violation of the obligation to inform can be penalized only as to the loss of opportunity suffered by the patient, to avoid by a perhaps more appropriate decision, the risk that is eventually realized, the damage corresponding to a fraction of the various amounts of damage suffered, which is determined by measuring lost opportunity and cannot be equal to the bodily harm resulting from the medical procedures; that, in determining thus, the appeal court violated the aforementioned text." P. 1.

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