Stephanie was on the witness stand throughout the entire day, with an hour break for lunch.
Simon Cridland, barrister for the Defendants (Optical Express and Joanna McGraw), spent 5 hours cross examining Stephanie, desperately trying to discredit her, essentially calling her a liar, accusing her of exaggerating every claim she made about her poor vision.
He said the surveillance video showed her using a cash machine and mobile phone, so her eyes couldn’t be as bad as she said. I’m sure many of you, like me, guess the numbers and hope we’re right! I have often called the wrong person because I can’t read my phone, and pressed incorrect digits on cash machines etc…
He said she’d been videoed hoovering, so must be able to see the dust and dirt! (Actually, that’s one advantage of the state of my eyes - I can’t see the dust in my house, because I certainly haven’t got time to do anything about it if I could!)
Visually impaired is tragically what so many of us are, thanks to this hideous surgery, and hearing a pompous little man in a wig telling Stephanie that she’s exaggerating the state of her eyes made me want to rip out his throat - verbally of course!
However, I shouldn’t really be angry with him, as Cridland is simply doing what he’s paid lots of money to do, believing the lies OE have told him - otherwise he would be breaking all sorts of laws if he were to represent a client knowing they were lying!
t was quite traumatic hearing Stephanie's description of her treatment, starting with her 'consultation', as it mirrored my own, and no doubt that of every other person whose eyes have been damaged by Optical Express et al.
I shed a few tears again toward the end of the day, which is something I can usually avoid by immersing myself in MBE activities. Thinking too much about the mess of my own eyes pulls me back to a place I don’t want to be!
It took a lot of self control to remain quiet when Cridland told Stephanie: “Corneal haze is insignificant and you’d still have gone ahead if you’d been told about it…”.
He expressed disbelief that anyone would undergo elective eye surgery without researching the risks fully. Stephanie replied that she had expected Joanna to personally explain it to her before the op.
Cridland said Joanna McGraw had fully explained and discussed the risks of treatment, that she’d told Stephanie surgery might cause bulging corneas (ectasia), that she might suffer regression, dry eyes, need further surgery, glasses, etc…
It was hard for me not to burst out laughing at the absurdity of his claim - that any surgeon at OE (et al) has time to spend with a patient before the operation to explain the risks.
Absurd because, as she replied, had Stephanie been told any of this she would have walked out immediately, as we all would have done if we'd been told the truth before surgery - FULLY INFORMED CONSENT!
At the end of the day, after the judge retired, I approached Cridland and suggested he visit Optical Express anonymously, and then see what he has to say about their sales process and “informed consent”! I don’t think he likes me very much, whereas even Joanna smiled at me today. Gosh!
Because I’m too tired to be more creative: Dr McGraw wore a fitted purple blue jacket with a grey shot silk pencil skirt and low heeled black suede court shoes. Her trademark scarf around her throat was midnight blue with pink and turquoise splodges.
Today was the first day of 28 year old Stephanie’s legal claim against Optical Express (1st defendant) and Dr Joanna McGraw (2nd Defendant).
I truly expected the Defendants to settle at the last moment - as they generally do! But no, it seems they’re going ahead, and I’m free to report here now it’s in open court.
OE discovered last week that I knew about the trial, so presumably weren’t surprised at my presence. Nevertheless, Mrs McGraw and her legal team didn’t seem very happy to see me. And yet I’m such fun to have around
Dressed in a smart navy skirt and jacket with a modest neckline, lightened up by a light blue patterned scarf around her throat, Joanna remained composed throughout as Stephanie’s barrister presented his argument.
In fact, Joanna could have had botox given the lack of emotion she showed, her pallor accentuated by rouge, providing an unfortunate resemblance to a cadaver made up for a family viewing.
Stephanie’s case is based on lack of informed consent, Dr McGraw’s failure to explain and warn her of the risks pre surgery, performed at Optical Express in Southampton when she was only twenty one years old.
Briefly: Stephanie was supposed to have Lasik, Joanna changed it to Lasek, but performed PRK without consent.
I found myself in tears at one point, empathising with the description of Stephanie’s problems, many similar to my own - including severe photophobia. (It is a very bright court room and Stephanie and I both wore dark glasses)
Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Stephen Hannan and David Mungall) were mentioned in the opening argument, and I don’t believe OE could function without the tag team to fend off so many damaged patients with their repeated lies! (Presumably both have signed a gagging order with OE)
David Mungall wrote to Stephanie before she began legal proceedings in 2010, asking how much she wanted to settle. £10,000 was discussed.
Other than Joanna McGraw, there can be no argument that I had more knowledge about this industry than anyone else present there today. And I now better understand the difficulties faced by legal teams in representing eye surgery negligence clients.
It’s taken me nearly four years to learn all I have about the various procedures, terminology, etc... and to expect a Court to learn it in a day - or even a month, is impossible!
I was so shocked when her barrister detailed how the psychiatrist employed by OE to examine Stephanie had claimed she was exaggerating her depression for the purpose of her legal claim!
Believe me it gets worse
In 2012 Optical Express employed a surveillance team to spy on Stephanie, trying to prove she was lying about the extent of her vision problems. They even filmed her inside her house in her kitchen - and in her bathroom!!
Never again should anyone question me when I advise they record meetings with OE surgeons!
The Court emptied at 3pm so Judge Bailey could watch 2hrs of edited footage on a laptop, as the video player wasn't available in the Court.
By the way, I’m told Stephanie was wearing sunglasses when they filmed her through her kitchen window!
The informed consent process is at the heart of My Beautiful Eyes Campaign calling for government legislation. If (when) this case is won, it will be fantastically helpful to so many people who are in, or considering, litigation.
If you’re in London, or close by, and would like to come along to support Stephanie, please contact me.
I intend to be present every day, so will have little time to respond to emails, queries, etc…
I will do my best to update OERML when I can, but in the meantime, please visit OERML Facebook for recent news.