Out of Court Settlement after Newborn Baby Tragically Dies

Neil Lorimer settled a claim for two claimants whose newborn daughter tragically died at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

Claimant 1, the mother brought an action for funeral expenses and bereavement damages and for damages in respect of her daughter’s personal injuries arising from the negligence of the doctor who delivered her daughter. She also claimed damages for physical and psychiatric injuries and consequential losses. Claimant 2, the father, claimed for damages for psychiatric injury and consequential losses.

Claimant 1 was admitted to hospital for induction of labour. This was her first pregnancy and she had conceived with difficulty.

The Consultant elected to proceed to a trial of instrumental delivery in theatre after a 19 ½ hour labour and he used forceps to deliver the baby. She was born with significant bruising and swelling, with cuts to her face and ears together with multiple skull fractures and a massive brain injury. She was subsequently transferred to the Neonatal Unit where she died in her mother’s arms later that evening.

Claimant 1 suffered a second degree perineal tear which was repaired in layers.

The Post Mortem Report outlined serious birth injuries including a fractured skull. The conclusion of the Pathologist was that baby died due to:

1. (a) brain injury; secondary to (b) birth trauma; and
2. pulmonary haemorrhage (secondary to brain injury).

A police investigation took place and the Consultant was charged with gross negligence manslaughter. He was found not guilty however. The criminal standard of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt” and the jury also needed to be satisfied on that standard that there was “badness” in the sense of criminal conduct.

With regard to the civil proceedings the numerous allegations of negligence and that they caused the baby’s death were admitted by the Trust. Following negotiation the Trust agreed to pay damages by way of an out of Court settlement to both claimants. An apology was obtained for the clients together with an assurance that procedures would be reviewed. We supported the clients with matters arising from the criminal case, the Coroner and helped manage the intense media interest.