Man Wins Award After Cataract Surgery

Times Staff Writer

An Orange County Superior Court jury Thursday awarded $250,000 to a South Laguna man who suffered a substantial loss of vision in his one good eye following a cataract operation five years ago.

The jurors ruled in favor of Matthew Graham, 64, who sued Lincoln Grindle, a South Laguna ophthalmologist who performed the operation.

Graham's attorney, Ned P. Reilly, said his client had very poor vision in his right eye after developing a cataract at age 10 and began having problems with the left eye in early 1980.

Reilly said that shortly before the planned operation, Grindle on April 10, 1980, gave Graham an anesthetic to deaden nerves around the optic nerve but struck a blood vessel and caused a hemorrhage behind the left eye.

The attorney said striking the blood vessel was not negligent at all but created the possibility that a swelling would develop behind the eye. As a result, surgery was correctly postponed, Reilly said.

But the lawyer said the operation was rescheduled for April 16. He said Grindle reported that tests he performed showed Graham's eye was fit for surgery. Reilly contended the tests were not done, but even if they were, they did not involve medical instruments needed to precisely measure any swelling behind the eye.

Reilly said that because of the pressure behind the eye, after the operation Graham developed a fluid swelling of the retina, giving him the vision of a man "looking under dark water" for the rest of his life.

He said Graham can no longer work as a bank flooring inspector, can't read, drive a car.

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