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Compensation slashed as 'sex isn’t so important after 50'

scalesNineteen years after a botched surgical procedure a clinic successfully has had its fine reduced from €172,000 to €111,000 as the woman in question ‘was over 50 at the time and sex isn’t so important after 50.’

The patient's gynaecological problems required surgery at the Alfredo da Costa Maternity clinic in Lisbon, surgery that went dramatically wrong leaving the patient with a 73% permanent disability and irreversible injuries that prevented her ever from returning to a normal sex life.

The court at first awarded the patient €172,000 but the Supreme Administrative Court has decided to reduce the figure to €111,000.

The Supreme Administrative Court recognised the disability and suffering caused to the patient but reduced the compensation, claiming that at the time of the operation the patient was 50 years old and at this age "sexuality does not have the importance it had at younger ages."

This importance of a healthy sex life "diminishes as they get older," according to the court which in one sentence catapults Portugal’s legal system back to the stone age where women’s rights are akin to those of cattle.

This judgement was issued to a claimant that already suffers daily pain, wears diapers due to incontinence, was forced to stop working, suffered a severe depression and has battled with suicidal thoughts.

The court recognised that the patient had felt ‘diminished as a woman’ and then went on to finish the job by this thoughtless and barbaric pronouncement.

This case has dragged on for 19 years with the defence arguing that motherhood had caused the woman’s problems as well as earlier surgery for haemorrhoids.

In October 2013, the Administrative District Court of Lisbon found against the clinic and ordered it to pay compensation of €172,000 to the patient, plus interest, less than half of the original claim.

The woman had become a patient at the Alfredo da Costa Maternity clinic because she suffered a gynaecological problem that required a drainage procedure which led to infection.

Two years later, the doctors decided to remove her Bartholin's glands* in the vaginal area but the surgery went wrong and part of a pudendal nerve** was severed. This nerve controls urinary and faecal continence.

The court ruled that the surgeons at the clinic were culpable for violating the laws of medicine.

The medical team claimed that, before the operation, the patient had psychiatric complaints and had suffered from incontinence, but this was not accepted by the court as it was irrelevant.

The Supreme Court also considered that the doctors wrongly and unjustifiably gave inappropriate treatment and violated basic ‘leges artis’ ('according to the law of the art'.)

Having decided the clinic was liable and dismissing much of the defence arguments the court found in the patient's favour.

This was appealed and the Supreme Administrative Court successfully reduced the compensation order due solely to the woman’s age and its perception of her right to a sex life over 50 years of age.

This decision violated one of the foundation stones of Portugal’s legal system, that one’s religion, colour,  sexual orientation, or age will not be a barrier to justice.

To downgrade a compensation order in this belittling, unlawful and shameful way is an appalling breach of her fundamental legal rights.



* The Bartholin's glands, also called Bartholin glands or greater vestibular glands, are two pea sized compound racemose glands located slightly posterior and to the left and right of the opening of the vagina. They secrete mucus to lubricate the vagina and are homologous to bulbourethral glands in males. However, while Bartholin's glands are located in the superficial perineal pouch in females, bulbourethral glands are located in the deep perineal pouch in males. Their duct length is 1.5 to 2.0 cm and open into navicular fossa. The ducts are paired and open on the surface of the vulva.

**The pudendal nerve is the main nerve of the perineum. It carries sensation from the external genitalia of both sexes and the skin around the anus and perineum, as well the motor supply to various pelvic muscles, including the external urethral sphincter and the external anal sphincter. If damaged, most commonly by childbirth, lesions may cause sensory loss or faecal incontinence. The nerve may also be temporarily blocked as part of an anaesthetic procedure.




+1 #5 fred bloggs 2014-10-19 11:56
it's taken nineteen bloody years for them to come to this weasely conclusion? i wonder how much the lawyers have taken out of this?
+2 #4 RCK 2014-10-19 10:12
In a word ..... Disgusting ..... Nuff said
+3 #3 Peter Stotesbury 2014-10-18 21:29
What on Earth ! Are we playing with words or double guessing on one's sexual health ? I thought sexual intercourse was good for the health and well-being of any couple - on many levels !
Let's see what the EU might say or may be the Portuguese MEPs ?
+3 #2 Frederika 2014-10-18 20:12
What is not mentioned in this review is that this is not insurance companies battling it out.

The 'paltry' difference in the reduced payment makes it clear that the surgery clinic did not have any or sufficient insurance 19 years ago at the time of doing the operation.

At a time when a 1st World country would have insisted on it .... back then in Portugal - as many Portuguese will tell you even today - the outcome of advanced surgery, like so much else, is 'left to Allah'.

In the UK today, even a physio-therapist will have a 1million insurance minimum. Or risk prison ....
+3 #1 Edith 2014-10-18 17:21
To downgrade a compensation order in this belittling, unlawful and shameful way is an appalling breach of her fundamental legal rights ...

This is a tragic case but unfortunately in no way at all 'unique'.

Time and again the well-heeled or well connected make Portugals laws - and therefore the EU's, ineffectual. Well able to keep appealing until the other party - often the Portuguese Government Criminal prosecutors themselves - falls away. Yet 3.5 million are currently queing to take part in this lottery.

Many, where less important and battling someone more important - very reluctantly, well aware that Portugals legal system is - like the country as a whole - still very much 3rd world.

The problem stemming entirely from the retarded stage in Portugals social development. Not least - many of todays judges and senior lawyers are from families who 'served the law' in Salazar's time.

Salazars law ..... not being recognisable as law in a 1st world country !

As the esteemed Ed. points out - in the UK a Vet could be prosecuted for this kind of lapse to someone's pet. Yet this was a human !