£37m award for boy who contracted herpes virus at Watford General at birth | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

£37m award for boy who contracted herpes virus at Watford General at birth

Paul McNeil has successfully settled a claim on behalf of a six-year-old boy who contracted the herpes simplex virus at Watford General Hospital in 2012, which led to brain fever.

The failure of the paediatric team at the hospital to treat the virus appropriately, including administering antiviral drugs immediately following diagnosis, caused catastrophic brain injury. The boy now faces significant cognitive, behavioural and communication difficulties and has autism and visual impairment.

During more than four years' work by Paul's team, including investigating the events of the birth and collecting extensive expert medical reports about the child's current and future needs, the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability and agreed settlement with the family.

At the approval hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice in October 2018, Mrs Justice Lambert said she was pleased West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust had admitted liability and agreed to settle his case. She approved the settlement of £37m put forward by Paul and Henry Witcomb QC.

'The effects of the negligence have been tragic both for the boy and his family,' Mrs Justice Lambert said.

Paul McNeil acknowledged that this is likely the highest award made in a clinical negligence case but said the focus should be on preventing such tragedies ever happening again. 

'No amount of compensation will allow them to live a normal life but the settlement will ultimately enable them to access funds to pay for vital care, education and therapies to help their child live the best possible life,' Paul said.

The chief executive of the trust apologised to the boy's family in a letter sent in May 2017. He said lessons had been learnt and steps taken to ensure 'nothing similar will ever happen again'.

Paul praised the work on the case of solicitor Nilam Patel and also said Fieldfisher's Court of Protection team will continue to work closely with the family to help manage the award.

The boy's parents said the settlement takes away 'one major source of pressure on us as a family'.

In an email to Paul, they thanked the team for their 'dedication, drive, flexibility, responsiveness and thoughtfulness' which they said 'have shone through, especially at difficult times for us. Simply first class'. They asked that Paul look back on this case 'with some pride for what you achieved'.

Contact us

For further information about hospital negligence claims and clinical negligence claims, please call Paul McNeil on 0330 460 6804 or email paul.mcneil@fieldfisher.com.


All enquiries are completely free of charge and we will investigate all funding options for you including no win, no fee.