Paul McNeil acted for Stephen in a cerebral palsy claim arising out of his birth and delivery at the North Middlesex Hospital on 20 November 1995. Stephen has significant developmental delay, poor vision and serious behavioural problems. He also has some degree of motor dysfunction.
His mother was admitted to hospital on the evening of 19 November 1995 and was appropriately monitored with a CTG trace. By about 00:30 hours the next day, the trace indicated severe fetal distress, such that steps should have been taken to deliver Stephen by emergency Caesarean section.
Delivery did not take place until 01:35. There was also a delay in resuscitation by the paediatricians.
The claim was investigated even though Stephen’s injuries were not those usually associated with lack of oxygen during labour.
A letter of claim was served on 11 July 2002 and the defendant subsequently admitted that there had been negligence in failing to deliver Stephen by 01:00 hours on 20 November 1995.
However, the Trust vehemently denied that the negligence caused Stephen any harm.
Proceedings were issued in October 2003 and the trial was fixed for Autumn 2004.
The defendant initially offered to settle the case on a 50% discounted liability basis and later a 66% discounted liability basis.
These were rejected by the claimant on the basis of the strength of the paediatric advice, which was that the majority of his injuries were caused by the delay in delivery.
On 28 July 2004, the court approved a settlement agreed between the parties.
The defendant accepted that if delivery had taken place by 01:00, Stephen would have been born with damage limited to motor dysfunction. He would have suffered, at worst, mild cerebral palsy, with no learning or visual problems and no challenging behaviour.
But for his cognitive and visual damage, Stephen would have been able to live independently and hold down a job. Judgment was entered on that basis.
In addition, the defendant agreed to make an interim payment in the sum of £700,000 to cover a rehabilitation package agreed between the parties to include the appointment of a psychologist, case manager and the purchase of suitable accommodation.
The amount of damages Stephen is to receive is yet to be decided. The case was conducted with the benefit of Public Funding.
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