Lawsuit over fatal facelift surgery to begin

A MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR law case will open in a New York courtroom next Monday when the family of a Limerick woman who died as a result of botched plastic surgery begin an action against a disgraced surgeon.

Kay Cregan, aged 42, died on March 17, 2005, three days after undergoing a facelift at the Manhattan clinic of Dr Michael Sachs in Central Park South.

Shortly after the operation, Mrs Cregan collapsed and was rushed to the nearby St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital where she was placed on a life-support machine.

Her husband Liam, who did not know Kay had decided to have facial surgery, rushed from their home in Croom when told that his wife was gravely ill. He was at Kay’s side when the life-support machine was turned off.

Liam Cregan and the couple’s two young sons are suing Dr Sachs. A leading New York civil action lawyer, Thomas Moore, will represent the Cregans.

Waterford-born Mr Moore said: “We will be looking for quite a bit of money. We are talking in millions of dollars at least. Parental loss to children is regarded in cases such as this as a very significant matter. The jury will have to decide on two central issues, negligence and medical malpractice, and what damages are to be awarded.

“At the end of the trial the judge will submit a written question to the jury as to the deviation from acceptable practice and the jury then answers this question. Depending on the verdict, the jury will then be asked about monetary damages for the loss and in New York there is no upward limit.”

Mr Moore’s office said last night that while the case opens on Monday, it is likely to deal with pre-trial matters with the full hearing fixed for a later date.

Mr Moore said damages would be assessed on the loss of a wife, a mother of two young children, along with the pain and suffering Kay endured prior to her death.

He said the economic loss of Mrs Cregan, who was a senior official with Limerick City Council, would also be taken into account.

Earlier this year, Dr Sachs sold his luxury Manhattan home to the Russian government for a reported sum of €24 million.

Kay Cregan was not aware that Dr Sachs was among the most sued doctors in the US when she paid $32,000 for the surgery.

She found about him in an Irish Sunday newspaper which made no reference to his appalling record.

Dr Sachs, dubbed Dr Botch by the New York media, had settled 33 malpractice suits since 1995. The New York State Health Department banned him from performing complex nasal surgeries without supervision.

In March this year he was struck off by the New York State Board for professional medical misconduct, after an investigation into his care of four patients who underwent surgery at his clinic.

The board found he failed to assure appropriate preoperative medical clearance and failed to assure appropriate post-operative monitoring.

His attorney, Jay Butterman, blamed an undiagnosed irregular heartbeat for Kay Cregan’s death.

However, the autopsy found no pre-existing condition that played a role according to Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York city medical examiner.

“The surgery was a contributory factor in her death,” she said, adding that the autopsy did not cite any other factors.

Since the tragedy, Mr Cregan has asked the media not to approach the family.

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