Gavel, stethoscope and caduceus sign on books background. Mediicine laws and legal, medical jurisprudence. 3d illustration
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 31, 2024 ·  3 min read

Australian Man sues hospital for $1 billion after watching wife’s c-section delivery

The “miracle” of childbirth isn’t exactly a pretty one. It can be somewhat gruesome, whether via natural birth or a cesarean section. While it used to be that husbands weren’t allowed into the room for the birth of their children, now, they are welcomed and often encouraged to be there. Sometimes, however, it seems the husband isn’t prepared for what he will see. In a highly unusual legal case, an Australian man has brought a $1 billion lawsuit against a hospital. He alleges that witnessing his wife’s c-section delivery caused him severe mental distress, leading to the breakdown of his marriage.

The Plaintiff’s Allegations

Anil Koppula argues that the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne was negligent in ensuring his psychological well-being during the birth of his child in 2018. He says he was “permitted and encouraged” to watch in the room. According to his claim, seeing his wife’s internal organs and blood during the c-section caused him to suffer from a “psychotic illness.” Subsequently, he claims that this illness led to the collapse of his marriage, inflicting significant emotional and financial damage on his life. The staggering $1 billion figure seeks to attribute a substantial monetary value to these alleged losses. (1)

Duty of Care in Medical Settings

The “duty of care” principle is a fundamental tenet in medical law. It ensures that healthcare providers take reasonable steps to avoid harming patients physically and psychologically. Although medical professionals have a duty of care towards their patients, it is unclear whether they owe the same duty to non-patient observers. This group includes family members witnessing medical procedures. In this case, the plaintiff contends that the hospital owed him a duty of care and failed to fulfill it adequately. (2)

Hospital’s Position

While the Royal Women’s Hospital admitted it owed Koppula a duty of care, they denied that they breached it during the birth of his child. They also rejected claims that he suffered any injury. They assert that the plaintiff’s claim is baseless, citing the absence of any recognized psychopathology directly linked to witnessing a c-section. Koppula underwent a medical examination with a panel. After that examination, the panel determined that “‘the degree of psychiatric impairment resulting from the injury to the claimant alleged in the claim does not satisfy the threshold level’.”

Additionally, the hospital may emphasize the inherent risks associated with the childbirth process and argue that the plaintiff willingly assumed these risks by choosing to be present in the operating room. On top of that, they could argue that the breakdown of the plaintiff’s marriage is a separate issue, not directly caused by the hospital’s actions.

While Koppula disagreed with the findings of this panel, he did not apply for a review of their results. The judge then ruled that he could not recover damages for non-economic loss, meaning Koppula wouldn’t receive anything.

Potential Implications

This groundbreaking lawsuit raises several thought-provoking questions within the legal community. If the court were to have found the hospital liable, it could establish a precedent that extends the duty of care beyond patients to cover family members present during medical procedures. Such an outcome would have far-reaching consequences for healthcare providers and potentially reshape the way they approach consent from witnesses. Additionally, the case could influence the development of mental health legislation and heighten awareness around the psychological impact of medical events on non-patients.

Be Prepared

The Australian man’s $1 billion lawsuit against the hospital over witnessing his wife’s c-section delivery highlights medical law’s complex and evolving nature. While the unique allegations of a “psychotic illness” caused by witnessing a medical procedure may be met with skepticism, the case has highlighted the impact that procedures could possibly have on witnesses. Perhaps this is something that future parents and hospital staff will keep closer in mind when inviting a family member into the room. If you are considering witnessing a medical procedure of a family member or loved one, make sure that you are well informed of what it will be like before you enter the room. At least in that way, you will be prepared for what will come.

Keep Reading: Mom told she has terminal cancer in the middle of her C-section as doctor cries


  1. Man sues Melbourne hospital for $1 billion after watching wife’s c-section delivery.” 7 News. Elizabeth Daoud. September 2023.
  2. Man sues hospital for $870M, says wife’s C-section caused him ‘psychotic illness’.” Global News.  Sarah Do Couto. September 15, 2023.