Liability agreed for 5-year-old boy with dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy | Fieldfisher
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Case Study

Liability agreed for 5-year-old boy with dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy

Following approval at the High Court, Jane Weakley secured settlement of liability in a complicated birth injury claim against the Royal Cornwall Hospital for a boy, now aged five, born at the hospital.

It was originally arranged that the claimant would be delivered at home and when his mother initially went into labour, she was encouraged to push by the midwives. However, following a drop in the fetal heart rate and the presence of meconium stained liquor, arrangements were made for transfer to hospital.

An ambulance was called, but there was a delay in transferring as the midwives thought the delivery was imminent and then at hospital, there was a failure to recognise the urgency to deliver the baby.

He was born in a very poor condition, was blue and floppy with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. He was not breathing and had a heartrate of less than 100 bpm.

A neonatal practitioner nurse was present for the delivery and attempted but failed to resuscitate the baby. She called a registrar who also failed to resuscitate and there was delay in calling a consultant neonatologist, including one who was in his room not far away, although not on duty. This consultant, when called, was able to resuscitate the claimant, when his heart rate reached over 100bpm, but by this time, he was 30 minutes of age.

The claimant had aspirated particulate secretions that compromised his resuscitation. Had he been delivered earlier, the hypoxic insult, the aspiration would have been avoided, and the resuscitation would have been easier.

This was a difficult and unusual case involving several factual and legal issues around the standard of care at home and in hospital. In addition, whether a consultant, not on call but in the building, should have been asked to attend the life threatening resuscitation earlier in circumstances where the hospital only required the consultant on call to attend within 30 minutes.

Before trial, the parties met and were able to negotiate liability settlement of 55 per cent of the value of the case to be assessed.

Today, the claimant suffers from dystonic quadriplegic cerebral palsy (GMFCS level 5). He has high life-long care needs. An interim payment on account of damages is being used for his immediate and pressing needs while his needs for life are assessed.

The claimant's mother said:

We are so grateful to Jane and our son's legal team for achieving this settlement for him. The settlement gives him so much more security than he otherwise would have had, and gives him the option of living independently of us in the future. He's a clever and sociable boy with so much potential, and his settlement will help him access what he needs to lead a happy and fulfilled life. For us as parents, the process gave us answers to so many questions we had about his birth and helped us gain some peace.

Jane Weakley added:

This was a real milestone for this lovely little boy and his family and we will continue to work with them to achieve a final settlement.

Contact us

For further information about birth injury claims and hospital negligence claims, please call Jane Weakley on 0330 460 6773 or email


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