I read with interest + sadness, the recent decision by Williams DCJ in Lane v Northern NSW Local Health District [2013] NSWDC 12.

The case concerned allegations by 2 daughters of mis-management of their elderly mother, at 2 NSW hospitals.  Tellingly, their father did not support their allegations and gave evidence expressing gratitude for the hospital care provided, in the period prior to his wife’s death.

As Williams DCJ elegantly (and compassionately) put it at the beginning of his reasons, if ever there was a case that should not have reached a courtroom this was it.  The sections quoted from the evidence given by the husband of the deceased, during cross-examination by his daughters (the plaintiffs), are painful to read and it can only be imagined what it must have been like to have been present in court listening to such evidence.

A recurrent issue: what can be done in such cases, when family are irretrievably convinced that a wrong has occurred, short of ventilating such process in the courts?  Should there not be an ADR alternative, short of committing a Judge to 10 hearing days + formulating of a 363 paragraph set of reasons (which, which respect, Williams DCJ did generously, without complaint and with compassion).

I suspect, though they would never have agreed to it, the daughters may have been more satisfied with the outcome of such process, than the trial (and Williams DCJ’s conclusions; including relating to their psychiatric health and its causes)  they were no doubt so determined to pursue.