Story 19: Medical Expert Assists Indigenous Man in Custody 

2020: New South Wales

Two years ago, Allen & Overy’s James Clark contacted ExpertsDirect Pro Bono about an Indigenous Australian man who was assaulted by corrections officers in the cells of a local court. Police struck the man multiple times in the face and torso which left him with a fractured nose that caused breathing and sleeping difficulties, and swelling around the cheeks, ears, and eyes, amongst other injuries.

A physical assessment of the client’s facial injuries would become essential to establishing the extent of harm and therefore the basis of the client’s personal injury claim. Any assessment however would require the opinion of a medical specialist and therefore exceed the firm’s and client’s combined budget of $2,000.

ExpertsDirect’s pro bono arm provided an experienced oral-maxillofacial surgeon. The very next day, they sourced an ENT specialist on the advice of our oral-maxillofacial surgeon that an ENT doctor would be more appropriately qualified to assess the full extent of the client’s injuries. The ENT expert provided the client with a consultation only days later.

The expert’s report found that the incident with police had led to permanent damage to the client’s nose and air passage.

The Allen & Overy team led by Jason Gray and Edward Einfeld secured a settlement for the client who was very happy with the result. The settlement was achieved notwithstanding strict laws that are intended to prevent persons in custody in the jurisdiction in question from being able to obtain compensation for such assaults. According to Mr Clark, the provision of low-cost expert reports was vital in overcoming procedural hurdles and generating a real risk to the defendant, which helped to secure the positive outcome for the client.

Although the above story focuses on a specific matter ExpertsDirect undertook, it also reflects the experiences of more than a few of our pro bono clients who require financial and legal support in the same circumstances—in personal injuries claims against state institutions, often correctional or detention centres.

ExpertsDirect was founded on the understanding that the provision of effective and reliable expert witness evidence can significantly affect the outcome of a case. After witnessing the powerful impact of our service in our commercial practice, ExpertsDirect now extends its service to pro bono and community lawyers representing clients experiencing significant disadvantage.

This story was submitted by ExpertsDirect.