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Case Study

Wrongful birth claim against Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Mr and Mrs Y instructed Iona-Meeres Young to represent them in a claim regarding their daughter, XY. Their claim had previously been rejected by two other firms of solicitors who deemed it too risky to take on.

The claim involved the 'wrongful birth' of Mr and Mrs Y's daughter, who was born with Down syndrome and associated serious disabilities. It was alleged that the sonographer conducting Mrs Y's 20 week anomaly scan had failed to correctly measure the nuchal  translucency (NT) at the widest point. As a result, Mr and Mrs Y were incorrectly advised that the risk of their child being born with a chromosomal abnormality and specifically Down syndrome, were low. Had the NT been appropriately measured, the Claimants would have been advised of a higher risk which would in turn have prompted Mrs Y to undergo diagnostic testing via amniocentesis. It is more likely than not that the test would have diagnosed Down syndrome and Mrs Y would have terminated her pregnancy.

Supportive evidence was obtained from experts in sonography and fetal medicine as to both breach of duty and causation. Proceedings were issued and served on the Defendant and the court ordered directions for a split trial following a denial of liability. Factual and expert evidence was exchanged before the parties attended a round table settlement meeting on issues of liability only. Mr and Mrs Y agreed to compromise their claim at 55%, which reflected the risk that their claim might not succeed.

Judgment was entered in favour of Mr and Mrs Y before their claim proceeded to quantification. Their daughter, XY, was assessed by experts in 10 different specialisms given the complexity of her needs. Expert evidence was exchanged by the parties before a second round table meeting took place on issues of quantum. The main issues between the parties were whether a) the Defendant should be liable for XY's needs beyond the age of 21, when arguably the state would resume responsibility for her care; and b) whether XY would require one or two carers for the remainder of her life.

The claim settled for a capital sum of around £10.9m on a full valuation basis.

Iona Meeres-Young was assisted by Emma Kendall. Counsel instructed was Lizanne Gumbel QC of One Crown Office Row.

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For further information about wrongful birth claims, please call Iona Meeres-Young on 020 7861 4571 or email iona.meeres-young@fieldfisher.com.

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