German Awarded Just $4,100 for Lost Skull Section

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In a result sure to not open the floodgates of missing-skull litigation, a German court has awarded only 3,000 euros ($4,100) to a man who had to have the top of his skull replaced with plastic after a hospital’s error.

According to the report, the man needed a brain operation that required the top of his skull to be removed.  As Germany does not appear to have mastered screw-top brain surgery, doctors proceeded in the more traditional manner to remove the skull section, and they put it in cold storage during the operation.

Unfortunately, the storage did not turn out to be cold enough, because of a defect or malfunction in the refrigerator, and the part could not be reattached.  After what were probably a few awkward moments, and some rummaging around in desk drawers, doctors replaced the missing section with what the article called a "plastic prosthesis."

The patient was not pleased with his new sun roof.  He sought compensation of at least 20,000 euros, saying that the prosthesis caused him headaches, affected his balance and made him "unduly sensitive to the weather."  (Maybe it leaked?)  But, after consulting with experts, the court found that the problems had been caused by the operation, which itself was not negligent, rather than the skull part that was lost due to defective refrigeration.

The court ruled that the man was entitled to 3,000 euros as "appropriate and sufficient" compensation for the discomfort, but gave him nothing for the prosthesis.  In fact, he was lucky that he didn’t have to pay them, since according to the report the skull experts concluded that "the new skull roof was better than the original."

Link: Reuters