Liability was admitted in full at a very early stage, before expert evidence was obtained. Accordingly, allegations of negligence were never particularised. However, it was clear from the hospital's own investigation that there were concerns about the interpretation of the CTG during labour and delay in the birth. Judgment was entered in 2006 on a hundred per cent basis. The Claimant was only age 2.
The Claimant was severely disabled, with severe HIE (grade 3) and a dystonic form of cerebral palsy. He had developmental delay. He had no swallow and had excessive salivation that was not under control. He was nil by mouth and gastrostomy fed. His lack of swallow resulted in him requiring intrusive suctioning at very regular intervals day and night. He dribbled constantly, which interfered with his ability to enjoy life as he could not look down for more than a very short period of time before dribbling on to whatever he was doing. He required 24-hour care. He was, however, aware of his surroundings.
The claim was stayed for a number of years, especially as the Claimant was developing cognitively better than expected. During this time, the defendant adopted an extremely helpful approach and made a number of interim payments voluntarily, totalling £1.6 million. The Claimant benefitted enormously from the care and various therapies that were available to him in light of the interim payments and was able to attend a school that was excellent for him. He far exceeded everyone's expectations. Against the odds, he even learnt to take a few steps, with a walking frame.
Despite his problems, this young boy was an inspiration to us all. His delightful personality and zest for life won everyone over, including the defendant's experts! He was loving and bubbly, and thrived when he was the centre of attention. He was a golden-boy at school.
It had always been recognised that the Claimant would need to move schools at about age 10. The family waited to receive the opinion of the education expert in the case before deciding where they would finally live, so no claim was made during the case to purchase a property. Subsequently, the family have relocated and the Claimant started at Ingfield Manor School last year, and is doing brilliantly.
A round table meeting was held in the autumn of 2014. The parties were far apart at the outset, largely because the defendant gave a life expectancy of 38 years.
The parties were able to reach settlement in this case by agreeing that not only future care and case management costs should be met by annual periodical payments, but also other heads of loss including Court of Protection costs and loss of earnings.
Settlement was based upon payment of a lump sum of £3,276,000, with £125,000 for care and case management to age 14, £175,000 to age 19, and £228,000 onwards. Further, he would be paid £18,644 per annum from age 19 onwards for loss of earnings to spend on outgoings other than care and case management, and £11,000 per annum for Court of Protection and deputy costs.
The settlement was approved at a Hearing in October 2014.
This case is, in my opinion, an example of how beneficial it is if a child has access to therapies from a very young age. The Claimant was encouraged to maximise his potential from a very young age, which he did and which we are sure he will continue to do.
The Claimant's father said:
"Edwina has been fantastic. Not only is she a brilliant lawyer, but she is a powerful combination of professionalism and compassion. She fought for our son every step of the way, and explained everything to us carefully and clearly. We regard her as part of the family. We will be eternally grateful to her for ensuring that our son has the happiest life possible."
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