Hospital Settlement Approved in High Court Following Death Of Father-Of-Three During Clinical Trial

Medical Law Expert Says Family Remain Frustrated As Continuing Investigations Into Surgeon Mean They Cannot Lay Memories To Rest


The heartbroken widow of a man who died during a clinical trial, just weeks before she discovered she was pregnant has today spoken of her frustrations that she is still unable to lay her husband’s memory to rest more than three and a half years after the tragedy.

The family of father of three Luigi Belcuore, 43, known to his friends as Louis, today received a settlement approved by the High Court in Birmingham following an earlier full admission of liability by defendants, the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic NHS Foundation Trust.

However, investigations into the professional conduct of surgeon Professor James Richardson by the General Medical Council’s Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service (MPTS) have still to conclude, following a further adjournment last week (Friday 25th January) - a move which their lawyer from Irwin Mitchell, says has caused further heartache for the family who are unable to move forward with their lives.

Victoria Blankstone, a medical law and patients’ right’s expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office, said: “Today is a difficult day for Louis’ family. Whilst Penny is relieved that the approval hearing means that their three young children will be properly provided for financially, nothing can turn back the clock and the fact remains that Louis’ death remains the most appalling and needless tragedy.”

The Warwickshire businessman took part in a clinical trial testing new techniques for treating knee cartilage problems in October 2009. But the surgeon’s decision to adapt a piece of equipment without authorisation meant the father of three died of a sudden cardiac arrest on the operating table.

Just four weeks after Louis’ death his widow Penny discovered that she was expecting their third child, but sadly Louis never knew that he was going to be a father again. He leaves behind a family of two young daughters aged five and six and a son, now aged two.

An inquest into his death in March 2011 determined that air had been injected into his knee joint by Professor Richardson, causing a massive embolism (air bubbles in the bloodstream) during the operation at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. 

Ms Blankstone, added: “What marks out this particular case is how difficult it has been to get to the truth of what happened and whilst it is a testimony to Penny that she has remained resolutely determined in her search for answers, she is deeply upset that it has taken so long to discover the full facts of what occurred the day her husband died.”

Louis, a well respected businessman from Morton Bagot, near Studley in Warwickshire, was the Northern European Sales Manager for American computer graphics giant, NVIDIA. In addition to his widow Penny and their three young children, he leaves behind three sisters and his elderly parents who live in Amalfi, Italy.

His widow, Penny said “For the past three and a half years I have felt in a state of limbo, trying to find out exactly what happened and why Louis died suddenly during what should have been a routine knee operation.

“Whilst today’s approval hearing brings the civil action to an end and I am grateful that my children’s future is now at least financially secure, it remains an ongoing struggle to carry on without Louis by my side. I know that he would want me to stay strong and I do this for the sake of our two daughters and our baby boy.

“However, it’s incredibly hard knowing that both they, and the son he never even got to see, will now grow up without their Dad and at every milestone in their lives he will sadly not be there to share in their happiness. To be able to fully come to terms with this we need full answers about exactly what went wrong and proof the same errors can never happen again.”