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Friday, 16 December 2005 00:00
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Banker Gets $7 Million in LASIK Suit

August 2, 2005
A New York investment banker has won $7.25 million in damages for vision impairment that he claims resulted from LASIK eye surgery performed by the TLC Laser Eye Center, which has surgery centers nationwide. It's the largest jury award to date involving the popular vision correction procedure.

Mark Schiffer, 32, underwent LASIK surgery on Oct. 6, 2000, a week after he first visited an optometrist affiliated with TLC. The surgery was performed by Dr. Mark Speaker, then-medical director of TLC, who also has his own practice.

In the suit, Schiffer claimed he suffered distorted and blurred vision, particularly in his left eye, because the TLC-affiliated doctors failed to determine that he had keratoconus, a degenerative corneal condition that made the laser surgery unsafe.

Schiffer's lawyer, Todd Krouner, argued that the failure to diagnose keratoconus was a result of TLC's high-volume practice, which he called the "McDonalds of LASIK surgery." He said TLC had placed Schiffer on a "conveyor belt" of LASIK patients, noting that Speaker performed procedures on 10 other patients the same day he operated on Schiffer.

Lawyers for TLC and Speaker took issue with Schiffer's claims and noted he drove himself to the trial.

At the time of the surgery, Schiffer was working at the Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein investment banking firm but he testified he was forced to leave the high-paying Wall Street job because of impaired vision. Schiffer, a graduate of Yale University and the Wharton School of Finance, has since taken a job with his father's Long Island banking security company.

The award -- $4.5 million in lost income and $2.75 million in pain and suffering -- is the largest to date in a suit over the popular vision correction surgery. It's considerably higher than the $4 million verdict that had previously been the largest reported in a LASIK personal injury suit. That case involved a former United Airlines pilot who claimed the surgery ruined his night vision and made him unable to fly.