Multi Million Pound Settlement Following Avoidable Birth Injury
In August 2020 Lanyon Bowdler obtained a lump sum in damages and periodical payments for life to cover care and case management for Claimant, Master XG in connection with the injuries he sustained at birth as a result of the hospital’s negligence. At the time of settlement, Master XG was aged eight years old and had been diagnosed with dystonic cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
The claim was brought on his behalf by his Mother, Miss XC, a dedicated, single mother, who lived with Master XG and her four other children. Due to the complexity of the medical issues involved, instructing solicitor Kay Kelly investigated the case over several years and was able to obtain and act for Master XG under legal aid funding.
The allegations related to the management of Master XG’s labour and delivery, namely that there was a failure to appreciate that he was a large baby and so proceed cautiously to a delivery by caesarean section when he presented in the breech position. As a result, Master XG suffered hypoxia and permanent brain damage in the minutes before his birth.
We initially assisted Miss XC by preparing a formal Letter of Complaint which was sent to the Defendant in August 2012. The Defendant responded in November 2012, but failed to make any admissions in terms of the negligence alleged.
In order to prove the case, we therefore obtained medical records and expert evidence from a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, a Consultant Neuro-radiologist, a Midwife Expert, a Paediatric Neurologist and a Consultant in Neonatal Medicine. This evidence supported the allegations that it should have been recognised by the clinicians that once the breech presentation had been identified, the plan to attempt a natural delivery was inappropriate and Miss XC should have been offered a caesarean section, which she would have accepted. The expert evidence stated that if Master XG had been delivered by caesarean section earlier, he would have avoided all injury. Following his delivery, Master XG required ventilation and oxygen therapy in NNU and he was not discharged from hospital until he was 51 days old.
A successful claim was also brought for Miss XC herself who blamed herself for not being able to deliver her son naturally. She received a separate sum of damages as a result of the psychological injuries that she sustained further to the trauma surrounding the birth.
We sent the Defendant a formal Letter of Claim setting out our allegations in May 2016. The Defendant responded in September 2017 and made full admissions of negligence in that the care provided to Master XG was substandard and this caused him to suffer a brain injury. The Trust also provided an open written apology.
Following the Defendant’s admissions, we obtained an interim payment on account of damages to provide much needed extra care and therapy for the Claimant and assistance for Miss XC. This included assisting the family to move to a larger property to meet the needs of the Claimant. Master XG has no sense of danger and his behaviour can be impulsive and unpredictable so he gained great benefit from being able to play in a secure garden with his siblings. He was also able to have therapies at home in a separate therapy room. We assisted Miss CG to instruct a Professional Deputy to manage Master XG’s property and financial affairs, as well as a specialist brain injury Case Manager to be responsible for overseeing and managing Master XG’s specialist care. We later also assisted Miss XC to recruit support workers to help with caring for Master XG on a daily basis.
In order to value the claim, we instructed a Neonatal Paediatrician to provide a report in regards to Master XG’s Condition and Prognosis. Master XG has significant health needs and will be dependent upon 24 hour care for the rest of his life. He is not likely to be able to obtain paid employment. He suffers with coordination difficulties, fatigue and is prone to falling over. He is unable to walk long distances and requires the use of a wheelchair outside for longer distances., He also suffers from epilepsy requiring medication and frequent medical review. He requires the input of a Clinical Psychologist, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist, and Paediatrician for ongoing management and treatment.
The acting solicitor also took detailed witness statements from Miss XC and other key witnesses to demonstrate the circumstances of the delivery and later the extent of the care that Master XG required and the severity of his pain and suffering. It was also necessary to obtain expert evidence in regards to the potential costs for ongoing treatment and equipment, and we therefore instructed a Neurologist, Educational Psychologist, Accommodation Expert, Speech and Language Therapist, Care Expert, Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist. We undertook monthly reviews of the evidence available such as support worker notes, case manager notes and case plans, and conducted research into potentially suitable properties for the family. We also engaged the assistance of a senior barrister, James Rowley, from Byrom Street Chambers, Manchester.
The Joint Settlement Meeting took place during August 2020 during which the Defendant agreed to pay a lump sum in addition to periodical payments to be made for the remainder of Master XG’s life. The compensation will ensure that Master XG has consistent support and care throughout his life whilst maintaining his independence safely and maximising his opportunities to enjoy the best quality of life possible.
Although the medical negligence case has been finalised, Lanyon Bowdler continue to support the Claimant from our Court of Protection Department.