Model and author Tara Moss is suing a NSW GP for an “extremely large” sum, claiming his negligence left her with permanent injury, chronic pain and in need of a walking stick nicknamed Wolfie.
However, the doctor’s lawyers have argued it was Ms Moss who was negligent, saying she failed to mention hip pain at any point over the time she was seen by Blue Mountains physician Dr Chris Coghill.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Wednesday, Ms Moss’s lawyer Richard Cheney outlined why the 47-year-old Canadian-born crime writer would be seeking substantial damages from the doctor.
Ms Moss is unfit to undertake her modelling, media and public speaking events as a result of her condition, and requires domestic assistance, he said.
“It’s potentially an extremely large claim.”
She continues to write, with her latest novel released in 2019, and has also turned her hand to disability advocacy.
On Instagram Ms Moss has since 2016 detailed needing the assistance of her wheelchair and walking stick – which is named Wolfie and has its own Instagram account with more than 5500 followers.
In the statement of claim tendered to the court, Ms Moss said she regularly presented to the doctor for over 18 months reporting serious pelvic pain that left her struggling to stand and walk.
The pain was so extreme she twice visited hospital.
“She attended on the defendant complaining of pain on no fewer than eight occasions in the period … without [him undertaking] any proper examination of the area subject to the complaint, and certainly without arranging MRI investigations,” Mr Cheney said on Wednesday.
Her discomfort was at different stages put down to her sciatica, suspected endometriosis, neurological issues and potential appendicitis, the statement of claim says.
Only when she attended another GP in March 2018 – more than two years after she first complained of pain – was the cause identified.
That doctor conducted an examination of her pelvic area, diagnosing her with a suspected tear to the fibrocartilage in her right hip, which an MRI scan soon confirmed.
Ms Moss underwent surgery to repair the tear in May 2018.
That is what Dr Coghill should have done from the get-go, Ms Moss argues, as he knew she had recently undergone medical procedures during which that kind of injury was a risk.
But for his negligence, Ms Moss would have been referred for diagnostic imaging in a timely manner, been diagnosed up to two years earlier, and have avoided permanent injury or the need for surgery, the statement of claim says.
She also would have avoided the development of secondary complications such as chronic hip and back pain, an abnormal gait and mental harm.
But lawyers for Dr Coghill are relying on the defence that he at all times provided competent professional practice.
They contend Ms Moss failed to ever tell Dr Coghill that she was suffering from hip pain, and that even if he was negligent, that didn’t necessarily cause the patient’s injuries.
“The defendant says that if any damages were suffered by the plaintiff as alleged, which is denied, they were caused or contributed to by (her) own negligence,” the filed defence says.
On Wednesday, Mr Cheney also sought the inclusion of reports from another two doctors to support Ms Moss’s case.
But Mr Coghill’s barrister argued the “tsunami of reports” they were seeking to tender duplicated expert opinions already included and would only blow out the length of the matter and legal costs
Associate Justice Joanne Harrison reserved her judgment.