Woman's fight for justice after a minor surgery leaves her scarred

Jane Njoki sued the Attorney General in 2010 on behalf of PGH claiming negligence during an operation.

From a botched surgery to a decade-long battle in court, Jane Njoki’s pursuit for justice continues.

In April 2010, Njoki sued the Attorney General on behalf of the Ministry of Health, Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital alleging negligence by its doctors and nurses.

As per court records, Njoki was in March 2009 diagnosed with blockage of the fallopian tubes and was admitted to Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital for a tuboplasty.

On April 15, 2009, she underwent surgery. She stated that the operation was negligently done from which she has developed serious complications, pain, and suffering.

She accused the hospital staff of failing to exercise due care and attention while performing the surgery and leaving a gauze pack inside her abdomen.

Njoki stated that as a consequence, she had to undergo two other operations that caused her further complications, pain, and suffering.

She said pus oozed from her anterior rectal cavity and inside her abdomen, and she developed fallopian tube inflation. She pleaded with the court for general and special damages amounting to Sh1,832,000.

The hospital denied the particulars of the negligence. The facility in their reply to the case said the procedure was professionally carried out.

Justice Janet Mulwa on April 20, 2017, dismissed the case. The judge noted that had she found the facility staff negligent and liable in damages she would have awarded a sum of Sh3 million as general damages for pain and suffering.

However, she said it was her finding that no satisfactory evidence was tendered that the alleged foreign body (gauze pack) was left in Njoki's abdomen by doctors or employees at the hospital.

“Therefore I find that the defendant is not liable for the post-operative complications which the plaintiff has suffered,” read the judgment.

Two years later after her case was dismissed, Njoki filed a civil suit in the Court of Appeal seeking to file an appeal out of time.

In her application she claimed she had applied for typed proceedings and judgment for purposes of appeal, but the court took too long to prepare and make the same available. The proceedings and judgment she noted were ready on December 4, 2018, and a certificate of delay was issued. She then instructed her lawyer Owen Mutai to take over the matter.

The Court of Appeal in Nairobi in July 2020 granted her leave to file and serve a memorandum and record of appeal from the judgment of the High Court delivered in April 2017. 

Court records indicate she was unable to raise the Sh90,450 filing fee.

In August 2020 lawyer Mutai on behalf of Njoki filed an application seeking an extension of time and leave to appeal as a pauper.

Court documents indicate that Njoki is unable to pay the said fees and is apprehensive that the leave granted to have her file Memorandum of Appeal and Record of Appeal shall lapse before the same is done.

Njoki stated that she does not have financial means. She says her husband left her after the surgery and she depends on the church for assistance.

"I am unemployed and have no source of income and thus cannot raise the required court fees. Further, the minimal funds I manage to secure are applied to paying medical bills as I am under continuous treatment," stated Njoki.

Paying medical fees, she said, has depleted all her savings.

On July 27, 2021, Court of Appeal Deputy Registrar H Adika in Nyeri found Njoki’s pauperism status as justified, and on May 27, 2022 the Court of Appeal in Nakuru informed Njoki's lawyer that a report had already been placed in the application by his client.