Friends launch appeal in memory of tragic teacher
The husband of Frances Cappuccini, the teacher who died after a caesarean operation at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, is to sue the NHS trust for a reported six-figure sum.
Tom Cappuccini is seeking compensation to provide for their two sons, Giacomo aged three and Luca, five.
Frances, 30, a teacher at Offham Primary School, gave birth to Giacomo via C-section in October 2012, but began to bleed heavily afterwards. She was given a general anaesthetic for a procedure to remove part of the placenta from her uterus, but never woke up.
Last week, a landmark court case to prosecute the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust for corporate manslaughter was thrown out by the judge because of insufficient evidence. One of the anaesthetists who treated her was also cleared of wrongdoing.
Now Mr Cappuccini, who lives in West Malling, is to proceed with a civil action through London legal firm Kingsley Napley.
A spokesman for the firm said: “The Pre-Inquest Review which was held in November 2013 heard that liability was admitted by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and that there would be a civil claim for damages. The family have no further comment to make at this sensitive time.”
The compensation claim is likely to include a dependency claim for the children, as well as taking into account Mrs Cappuccini’s potential earnings.
In a high-profile hearing at Inner London Crown Court last week, the jury heard that after the birth Mr Cappuccini sent a picture of the mother and new baby to their families. But his wife began to bleed heavily shortly afterwards and prosecutors claimed that two anaesthetists failed to take basic steps to save her.
Consultant anaesthetist Errol Cornish, 68, was charged with gross negligence manslaughter in connection with her treatment. A second anaesthetist, Dr Nadeem Azeez, 53, would have faced prosecution as well, but has returned to Pakistan. A warrant for his arrest was issued but there is no formal extradition treaty between Pakistan and Britain.
Mr Justice Coulson, addressing the jury, said: “There is no question that Frances Cappuccini should not have died at the trust hospital on October 9 2012.
“It is inevitable that her family want to know why it was that she did die, and they want someone to be held accountable. They have shown restraint and dignity. But as I am sure they understand, this trial is not a public inquiry into her death.”
The two doctors are reportedly still under investigation by the General Medical Council and face potentially being struck off.
An inquest into Mrs Cappuccini’s death is set to resume, although North West Kent Coroner’s Office said it had not yet received a date for the case.
A spokesperson for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was unable to comment on the compensation claim, or on whether there would be any further internal investigation.
The spokesperson said: “We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Frances Cappuccini, who have approached this very difficult situation of a criminal trial into Frances’ tragic death with the utmost dignity throughout. We understand that no outcome from these proceedings could bring any consolation to the family for the loss of Frances.
“The Trust acknowledges the not guilty verdict delivered in the Inner London Crown Court on January 28, 2016, in relation to the charge of Corporate Manslaughter arising out of the death of Frances Cappuccini on October 9, 2012.”
“Patient safety remains of paramount importance to the Trust and it has been shown during the trial that a number of compassionate and highly skilled clinical teams were involved in caring for Frances. The Trust has however recognised from the start that there were aspects of Frances’ care that fell short of the standards that the Trust would expect and they have already apologised to the family for this.”
Friends of Mrs Cappuccini set up the Frances Cord-ing-Capuccini Prize in her memory. The prize, which will support Master’s students at University College London (UCL) to research childbirth-related mortality, has already attracted donations of £4,403, including £400 raised by a cake sale in Tunbridge Wells.
On the justgiving page, friends said that Frances was “a loving wife, mother, daughter, teacher and friend to many.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/Frankie-Cappuccini