Surgeon who killed 30-stone woman in crash refusing to pay 300,000 damages because victim's size 'would have reduced her life expectancy'
Benjamin Kendrick admitted killing obese Joan Johnston in a crash in 2009Mrs Johnston's widower is seeking 300,000 damages following her deathDr Kendrick disputes amount because her size 'limited her life expectancy'
14:45 GMT, 11 December 2012
Damages: Surgeon Benjamin Kendrick, who admitted killing Joan Johnston in a road crash in 2009, is being sued for compensation
A surgeon convicted of killing an obese woman in a road accident is refusing to pay out 300,000 compensation to her widower – because her 30-stone weight would have limited her life expectancy.
Robert Johnston has lodged the claim following the death of his wife Joan in the crash in 2009.
But surgeon Benjamin Kendrick, 36, is disputing the amount because the victim was 'morbidly obese'.
He has agreed to pay out a large sum
in compensation over the death of Mrs Johnston, a court heard, but not
the full amount her husband is demanding.
surgeon's solicitor told Perth Sheriff Court that the impact of the
victim's 30-stone weight on her life expectancy was among the factors
being examined as negotiations between the two parties are ongoing.
McGregor told the court Dr Kendrick, of Chesham, Buckinghamshire, had
already made a 'substantial' offer to settle the claim.
He said negotiations were still taking place over expert evidence relating to Mrs Johnston's weight at the time she died.
'This is a reparation case in which substantial progress has been made,' he said. 'There has been a substantial offer made to the pursuer.
lady involved at the centre of this action was 30 stone in weight. That
would have had an effect on her life expectancy and that is still being
Couple: Joan Johnston pictured with her husband Robert. The woman was killed in a road accident in 2009
'I am advised
that further negotiations are taking place and I am told that it is
likely the parties will be able to resolve matters.'
Kendrick admitted killing the morbidly obese woman, who was from Scarborough, on his way to a
medical team bonding course in the Scottish Highlands in 2009.
He was fined 5,000 and banned from driving for three years but walked free from court partly because of his victim's weight.
Sheriff Michael Fletcher ruled out jailing Kendrick because his victim could have survived the head-on crash if she had been of average size.
Dr Kendrick admitted causing the death of the holidaymaker, and injuring her husband and three of his own colleagues, as they drove to a medical course.
The orthopaedic surgeon – described as 'an exceptional' talent – lost control of his rented people carrier and smashed into the Johnstons' oncoming vehicle.
Sheriff Fletcher said: 'Your contribution to society in your everyday work is extensive. At the time of the accident you employed all your medical skills to help the persons who were injured.
'If the person had been of average fitness they might have survived the injuries caused by the collision.'
Negotiations: Perth Sheriff Court heard Dr Kendrick had already made a 'substantial' offer to settle the claim
The court heard how Kendrick spent 45 minutes at the scene before paramedics arrived, tending to the injured including Mrs Johnston.
The doctors, who were Fellows of Oxford University, were on their way to a medical outbound course.
The Johnstons were both struck by an unsecured mobility scooter – weighing 15 stone – which was in the back of their Volvo estate.
Mrs Johnston, 57, was 'morbidly obese' and weighed so much that she almost sheered through her specially adapted seatbelt upon impact.
Her weight was so great that both the ambulance and the air ambulance called to the scene were unable to transfer her to hospital. A helicopter from RAF Kinloss eventually took her to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
Mr Johnston, 63, said: 'It's no secret Joan was a heavy lass. We were married 38 years and she always struggled with her weight, but that wasn't why she died.
'The fact he's disputing this really makes it worse. She had a thyroid problem which also meant that we could never have children – but she was healthy enough and we were happy.
'Now that's all been taken away. I am not saying he meant to kill Joan or I want him punished, I'm just saying that by shirking his responsibility he's causing even more hurt.
'From the start this man has tried to blame everybody else for this accident and my wife's death,' the retired Post Office manager said.
'He has blamed the vehicle, my driving, the car behind him and now Joan herself. I don't even care about the money. She was my absolute soulmate and not a minute goes by when I don't miss her.'