May 3, 2012

Compensation to secure quality of life for a girl with cerebral palsy

Harriet’s mother had a relatively uneventful pregnancy, apart from the fact that her “bump” remained very small throughout. She was monitored by midwives during the pregnancy, and the “fundal height” (size of the bump) was measured regularly. The measurements were not consistent, and should in fact have been a cause for concern, but no referral was made to hospital.

Harriet’s mother was admitted to hospital three days after her baby was due. The baby’s heart trace showed abnormalities, and Harriet was born by emergency caesarean section. She was not breathing and had to be resuscitated. She weighed only 3 lb 7 oz.

Harriet had suffered from a condition called Intra-Uterine Growth Retardation (IUGR) which had gone undetected until birth. As a result she was born with cerebral palsy a condition which would have a major impact on her life.

Simon Elliman took on Harriet’s case, with the benefit of Legal Aid, and obtained reports from a range of medical experts, including reports from obstetricians and midwives. The case was not straightforward, as the abnormalities in the measurements were not clear-cut.

Court proceedings were issued, and the hospital served a Defence denying all allegations. The case continued to be strongly defended, and was progressed towards trial. Before trial, a settlement meeting was arranged, and after long negotiations a settlement was arrived at, with Harriet receiving a lump sum capital payment of £1.5million, together with periodical payments for her lifetime to age 21 and an annual sum thereafter.

Simon comments on the case: “This was not an easy case, as the measurements were, in theory, within the normal range, but our team of experts, especially our midwifery expert, felt that this degree of growth retardation should simply not go to term unnoticed. It was a really extreme case – there was no liquor present at birth at all, and 3 lb 7 oz is a tiny baby at term.

Ultimately there was a significant risk that this case would not win, so this was a compromise settlement, but all the same, one which will make a world of difference to this little girl and her family.”

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