The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs agreed Monday to pay $925,000 to a man whose eyeball exploded during a routine outpatient cataract operation at the West Haven, Connecticut Veterans Affairs hospital.
The settlement, on behalf of 60-year-old Jose Goncalves, of Hartford, was reached as the case was being prepared for trial in U.S. District Court here.
"Jose suffered excruciating pain after that botched surgery and continued to have severe pain for months afterward," said Christopher Bernard, Goncalves' lawyer. "The damage to the eye is obvious because his iris is missing and his eyelid droops. If anything should ever happen to the undamaged left eye, he could face total blindness."
Veterans Affairs did not immediately return calls for comment.
According to the lawsuit, Goncalves was blinded in his right eye when a third-year resident at the VA hospital incorrectly administered an anesthetic during the Nov. 1, 2007, procedure.
Bernard said Dr. Yue Michelle Wang, the resident, incorrectly placed a needle with a local anesthetic "directly into Jose's eye instead of behind the eye as was proper. Then, failing to recognize her error, she proceeded to inject so much anesthetic, so quickly, that Jose's eye literally exploded."
Goncalves, who had worked as a roofer prior to the injury, now suffers from a significant lack of depth perception, making him completely unable to resume his previous occupation, Bernard said.