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Family of world-famous opera singer Jessye Norman issues medical negligence case

The family of world-famous opera singer Jessye Norman, who died in September 2019 aged 74, is continuing medical negligence claims against two private doctors and a London private hospital. 

Posted on 02 October 2021

Soprano Jessye Norman won five Grammy awards and had the pleasure of singing for two presidential inaugurations in the United States, the second inauguration of Ronald Regan and the second inauguration of Bill Clinton.  She performed many times at the White House and was chosen to sing the National Anthem of France on the Bicentennial Celebration of the French Revolution in Paris. She performed at the funeral of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, was the soloist at Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in 1986 and was among the performers for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Atlanta Georgia in 1996. 
 
 
She died from septic shock and multi-organ failure in 2019. 
 
Ms. Norman’s brother, James Howard Norman Sr, acting on behalf of her estate, has continued with the medical negligence claim which Jessye Norman commenced in 2018, alleging that a procedure carried out in 2015 to help with her sciatica and longstanding back problem left her paralysed. The claim has been brought against anaesthetist and pain specialist Dr Adnan Al-Kaisy, consultant spinal surgeon Mr Khai Lam, and the London Bridge hospital.
 
In the legal claim, Mr Norman describes how his sister had developed sciatica in March 2015 after undergoing surgery in New York the month before. While in London a week later she had a consultation with Mr Lam at London Bridge Hospital, following the advice of one of her doctors in the United States. Steroid injections and a “distraction device” were used to attempt to alleviate her pain but neither worked. Mr Lam then suggested epidurolysis, which was performed by Dr Al-Kaisey at London bridge Hospital on 12 May 2015.
 
Following the epidurolysis procedure Ms Norman was left effectively paralysed from the waist down and unable to walk. She needed extensive care and had to move into a rented apartment as her own home was not sufficiently accessible. 
 
It is alleged in Mr. Normans’ legal case that the epidurolysis was performed by Dr Al-Kaisey despite limited evidence of its efficacy or safety and despite the fact it is not recommended for back pain by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It is further alleged that Ms. Norman was not warned by Mr Lam about the limitations of the treatment or the significant risk of paralysis. All three defendants deny the claims.
 
Olive Lewin, medical negligence solicitor at Leigh Day, who is representing Mr Norman, said: 
 
“The injuries Miss Norman sustained made her final years extremely difficult. It is a sad fact that despite wanting to, she was unable to continue engaging in the activities and events she loved most in the last four years of her life.
 
“Jessye Norman had painful sciatica and was admitted to the London Bridge hospital for a pain-relieving procedure. She ended up being paralysed within hours of a procedure for which the Claimant says there was no informed consent, and the efficacy of the procedure has not been proven.
 
“A negligence claim is being pursued as a result. This remains an ongoing claim, which is currently being defended.”
 

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Olive Lewin

Olive is an experienced healthcare lawyer who has specialised in the field for more than 25 years, having previously trained as a nurse

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