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Apparently Killing a Fat Person Isn't so Bad

Doctor Spared Jail Despite Road Death
The Herald, Wednesday 17.11.2010, page 9 News

A doctor who killed a morbidly obese woman on his way to a medical team bonding course has been fined his entire savings of £5000 and banned from driving for three years.

Dr. Benjamin Kendrick was fined by a sheriff, who ruled out community service because he was already serving the community through his work as a surgeon.

At Perth Sheriff Court, Sheriff Michael Fletcher also ruled out jailing Kendrick because his 29-stone victim could have survived the crash had she been of "average fitness."

Kendrick, of Chesham, admitted driving carelessly and killing Joan Johnston, of Scarborough, and injuring her husband and three of his colleagues as they drove on the A93 road on May 6 last year.

The orthopaedic surgeon - described as an "exceptional" talent - lost control of his rented people carrier and smashed into a vehicle, causing the death of Mrs. Johnston.

Sheriff Fletcher said "Your contribution to society in your everyday work is extensive. At the time of the accident you employed your medical skills to help the injured."

"If the person had been of average fitness they might have survived the injuries. A custodial sentence is not appropriate. The appropriate penalty is a sunstantial monetary penalty."

I saw this short article in the Glasgow Herald yesterday, and haven't found it reprinted on their webpage. So, I retyped it for the benefit of the Fatosphere.

This story has also been covered by STV and The Daily Record.

This incident stinks of the Old Boy's Network; £5000 to a surgeon is a slap on the wrist. Given the fact that he admits to careless driving... I don't even have words. Joan Johnston's life was obviously worth considerably less to the doctor and to the court than the life of a thin person. They came right out and said it.

Scam Alert! | Medical Studies: For Entertainment Purposes Only?

wriggle99 November 18th, 2010 | Link | The injuries would have been

The injuries would have been capable of recovery by someone who was not compromised in other ways.

The overlap with ableism is quite disturbing, the idea that one's state of being makes one permanently culpable for the negligence of others, well, I'm glad I'm sitting down.

Also, seeing 'morbidily obese woman killed' all together shows that the sentiment in the quote is contained in that label and 'death fatz' aside it's time for this abuse of medical terminology to go.

MichMurphy November 18th, 2010 | Link | I have nothing to say,

I have nothing to say, except that this is utterly disgusting.

It is also a perfect example of how mortality stats of fat people can be questionable, since apparently any cause of death can be chalked up to being OMGbese!

blissing's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | This makes me nauseous.

This makes me nauseous. Also, £5,000 is his entire savings? An orthopedic surgeon? They make tons of money. Oh, maybe not in the UK.

And what kind of physical conditioning makes you less susceptible to a frakin' car running into you?

rachelr's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | So, if he had hit an older

So, if he had hit an older person or a person with some kind of otherwise compromised immune system or even a child, would they be as forgiving? Methinks not.

The fact that I don't even find this kind of news shocking anymore saddens me.

Viola's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | Rachel, they'd be more

Rachel, they'd be more forgiving, because it wouldn't be that person's fault that their health was poor, because blame is a big part of whether or not you get the right treatment.

I just posted this on my facebook account, and someone said that the reason the woman's size was a mitigating factor is because the defense made this argument, and it was because she was too large to receive help my the normal means and had to wait for 4 hours to be airlifted. He also said the driver was driving responsibly. So I don't know what other news stories are out there about this that might clear up some of the details.

richie79's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | Rachel raises an interesting

Rachel raises an interesting point, but even had he killed a small child rather than a fat chick with his 'careless driving' I suspect that this doctor's 'considerable talent' would have got him off the hook. The inference seems to be that surgeons aren't the only ones who buy into their own God delusion, that skill with the scalpel makes one essentially untouchable and certainly worth more in the grand scheme of things than someone who medical 'wisdom' considers an inevitable death waiting for a place to happen, to all but the unfortunate husband who now has to face life without her anyway.

At least the comments on the Daily Record version of the story seemed balanced in their questioning of why Mrs. Johnston's weight was of any relevance to the fact that she was killed through no fault of her own by a careless driver.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

Beanietude's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | This angers me on so many

This angers me on so many levels, not least of which the legal one. You take your victims as you find them. I don't care if this woman was the size if a house... But for the good doctor's actions, she'd still be alive. Credit to him for pleading guilty, but credit ends there. And shame on the sheriff for basing this sentence on bias and prejudice rather than sound legal principles. What a slippery slope.

MichMurphy November 18th, 2010 | Link | This quote from STV is

This quote from STV is further proof of shitfuckery:

"Regrettably it was not possible, because of her morbid obesity, to be taken by either the ambulance or the air ambulance. It was more than four hours before she got to the hospital."

Because we all know it is the fault of fat people when medical facilities are not adequately prepared to accommodate them.

It's not like it's a surprise that there are fat people living in the world, for fuck's sake. We all know they exist. And we even know the rough dimensions up to which we should be accommodating for, in anticipations of situations just like this one. She weighed just over 400 lbs -- it's not like they needed to get out the Harrier to lift her from the ground. How is it possible that an ambulance -- all of which have to accommodate driver, medics, and patients -- could not take her?

This is a glaring design flaw. One which no one seems very motivated to rectify, seeing as how fat people are icky and all.

chondros November 18th, 2010 | Link | Obscene. So now fat people

Obscene. So now fat people don't even receive the protection of the laws?

I'm not familiar with the legal system in Britain -- can Ms. Johnston's family sue Dr. Kendrick?

lilacsigil November 18th, 2010 | Link | From similar cases in

From similar cases in Australia (which has a similar legal system) a disabled or elderly adult is also worth less than a child (including disabled children, at least) or a young and healthy adult. Also, a surgeon is more important than just about anybody except a judge.

BigLiberty's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | Summing this up briefly: But

Summing this up briefly:

But for the man who hit her, she'd still be alive.

All the rest is doesn't matter one fucking bit.

MarilynW's picture
November 18th, 2010 | Link | Why pick?

I don't see any reason why we have to pick between hateful threats.

Yes, this surgeon was a murderously bad driver who should pay a far more serious penalty, monetary or otherwise.

Yes, the media (and whatever officials fed them this line) are total wankers for dismissing the seriousness of a fat person's death, as if she were to blame!

Yes, the lack of proper emergency transport for fat people is deadly. I particularly notice this information from the Scottish TV link...

"Her weight was so great that both the ambulance and the air ambulance called to the scene were unable to transfer her to hospital, and eventually a helicopter from RAF Kinloss took her to Ninewells Hospital in Dundee."

I feel so very sad for this woman's family. In their grief, they have to hear analysis blaming this woman's weight for her death. Is there any way we can find her family? Offer sympathy? Or not find them, but publicly offer it, in the comments sections perhaps?

vesta44's picture
November 19th, 2010 | Link | Yeah, if the ambulance

Yeah, if the ambulance couldn't transport her, it was a very small ambulance. I happen to weigh 376 lbs, and I would fit in an ambulance (I know this because my best friend weighed 400 lbs and she was transported by ambulance a couple of times, and she and I were the same size). It probably wasn't that the ambulance couldn't hold her, it was that the EMTs didn't want to pick her up because they were afraid of hurting themselves.
My daughter-in-law got hurt at an amusement park and had to be taken to the hospital and the EMTs that came to take her (she weighed 290 lbs at the time) made sure that there were 3 EMTs and 3 park guards to lift her onto the stretcher. So if there weren't enough people there to help lift Ms. Johnston, they would have waited until there were more trained people there to help (not that this excuses them at all, it shouldn't have taken 4 hours for them to have gotten more help there). Seems to me like it was a case of "She's the fat lady, we'll help the thinner ones first, they fit in the ambulances, and if she's still alive, then we'll see what we can do for her." They may not have said it in so many words, but bet your bottom dollar they were thinking it.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

richie79's picture
November 19th, 2010 | Link | "I'm not familiar with the

"I'm not familiar with the legal system in Britain -- can Ms. Johnston's family sue Dr. Kendrick?"

I am, and unfortunately where leniency of sentencing is concerned it's something of an international joke, particularly where death by careless / dangerous driving is involved. As for the difficulties in arranging emergency transport, I recall other cases in the UK where paramedics have actually stood around making jokes about a fat woman whilst she lay dying; also, don't forget the fits of outraged apoplexy that any attempts to dare cater for larger patients using - gasp - taxpayers' money! - inevitably induce in our hysterical press and media.

Otherwise, what Big Liberty said.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

Wanderer's picture
November 26th, 2010 | Link | I just Googled the case...

... and it's actually not his fault... entirely... but it gets worse.

The story was carried by the Courier:

You can read it here.

To begin with, Dr. Kendrick... an orthopaedic surgeon... was traveling to a medical course when his minibus (like a minivan, for us Americans) clipped the curb and went out of control.

Now, the crash wasn't the source of all of Joan Johnson's injuries... apparently her mobility scooter wasn't properly secured in the back of their Volvo Estate (what we call a station wagon), and it fell forward and hit her in the head. Dr. Kendricks managed to get her conscious, and proceeded to give emergency aid to all the injured.

She did have to be airlifted... Ninewells' ambulances are out of date.

So they got her to the hospital at 4 PM... and decided not to treat her because, as a fat person, she wouldn't be able to withstand intensive treatment.

That's right: the trauma room just sat on their hands and let her die. Dr. Kendricks, meanwhile, pled guilty to driving carelessly (a rather new charge in the UK) because he took his eyes off the road just before clipping the curb.

I'm mad at a doctor right now, but it isn't Kendricks...

PrettyKitty November 28th, 2010 | Link | Doctors get way with murder

Doctors get way with murder all the time. I am not just talking about the WLS carnage. I am talking about their blunders and the 100,000 Americans that are killed annually from nosocomial infections.

Doctors are held to very low standards. Maybe that is why the are so uncaring, arrogant and flippant . Doctors treat everyone like crap these days and it's worse if you are fat.

rebelle December 1st, 2010 | Link | I just caught this post.

I just caught this post. What??? As in, What. The. F***! Upon what basis is the judge making the assertion that a person of "average" fitness "might" have survived the crash? How the fuck does he even know what this lady's fitness level was? (It's different than weight. I am fat, but I go to the gym daily, and so, am probably "fitter" than a lot of thin couch potatoes, but never mind.) Did someone testify to her fitness? Did someone else clearly establish she could have survived had she been thinner? Did it at least bother anyone involved in the case how subjective "could have" is? And, finally, does it *matter*? The lady did not die because she was "too fat" to survive a crash. She died because- HELLO!- somebody lost control of his vehicle and slammed into hers. Period. Why on earth was her weight even an issue in this case? It's as ludicrous as saying: "Well, had this shooting victim over here been a little more blubbery around the middle, maybe the bullet would've lodged in the fat there, instead of in his vitals; therefore, we're not jailing the shooter."
Since I wasn't there, I guess I can accept that the doctor lost control of his car by accident, and perhaps his sentence is in line with what others receive when there is no malice involved in a death they cause. But the court's *reasoning* in handing down the sentence is appalling, offensive and outrageous! It sends the message that Joan didn't matter as much as a thinner woman would have. I shudder to imagine the comments attached to the original story.

rebelle December 1st, 2010 | Link | Besides, he didn't hit a

Besides, he didn't hit a "person of average fitness," whatever that means. He hit Joan Johnston. Her scooter did not dislodge on its own; it dislodged due to the force of the collision. Which was caused by, duh, the doctor. But for the crash, she would not have been cut by her seat belt, nor would have she required medical care. Duh, again. Having read through other posts now, I am just as outraged that the emergency room workers did nothing to help this woman; why were they not prosecuted also, for medical negligence?

alex.k December 6th, 2010 | Link | Sick.

Plain-out tragic. It reminds me of something a stranger once told me on the street, back when I was working some crummy street work for charities back as a teen. Some people just need to talk, and we're available 'targets'.
Told me her mother was run down by a drunk driver, who got a one year prison sentence and a couple-of-years ban from driving as a result. A year or so later she told me she read an article in the newspaper about some hooligans destroying two street lamps, and receiving a 3-year prison sentence. Apparently, she told me with tears in her eyes, a bunch of street lamps are worth more in this society than her mother. To be quite frank I felt like crying a bit myself, at that point. I still consider it one of the saddest things a person has ever told me, even to this day.

It's not news that the law is so obviously and easily bent in favour of a few powerful individuals, and in a 'person of status vs. a pariah' case, the 'person of status' always seems to win, almost regardless of the crime. We had a case over here a few years ago regarding a local politician who'd beaten up his bodyguard, and subsequently insulted (the insults included racial slurs) as well as beat an interfering passer-by. It took about a year (!!) for the court case to get into full swing, and the matter eventually ended up dropped, the politician didn't spend a single day in prison, though there was some kind of minor buy-out involved. Money shouldn't be an option where wealthy people are involved, in my mind, that kind of money to them is what a ten dollar bill is to us, literally.

Getting on topic, it's blatantly obvious that those 5000£ won't hurt the doctor, almost regardless of his wage. (Jesus, 'normal, lowly' people spend up to three grand on flatscreen TVs these days, to give this laughable 'sentence' some kind of meaningful proportion).. I just hope the doctor, and the other medical staff involved in the death of that woman end up having pangs of guilt over their carelessness / indifference to such an extreme degree, that it weighs in at the equivalent of a ten year or more prison sentence, which is what I believe that man should have gotten for his carelessness, and for the other medical staff (who apparently seem to have forgotten the oath they swore when they first got into the business), who just sat back and watched that woman die, would have deserved. She could have had kids waiting for her at home. I want those people to look her family in the eye and (if she has any ) tell her kids that mommy's not coming back. I dare them.

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