Summary of background

Following an uneventful pregnancy, the Claimant's mother attended St Georges Hospital on 15th January 2005 following the onset of contractions. During the labour, the Claimant's mother's became very distressed following the rupture of her membranes and the subsequent secretion of thick meconium liquor. The medical staff noted variations in the CTG trace with frequent deep decelerations. The Ventouse cup was applied but there was little advancement. Wrigley's forceps were requested by the Registrar but only Anderson's forceps were available. The Registrar continued to apply traction using the Ventouse cup and the Claimant was eventually born pale and floppy.

A crash call was put out after delivery for neonatal middle grade and Doctors noted that she had suffered from prolonged bradycardia and asphyxia. The Claimant had suffered a cephahaematoma with a subaponeurotic haemorrhage and was transferred to the neonatal unit. A cerebral function monitor revealed an abnormal trace and the Claimant was given Phenobarbitone and then Clonazepam for continuing signs of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy. The Claimant suffered from frequent seizures and was treated with Phenytoin and Paraldehyde.

The Claimant underwent an MRI scan on 19th January 2005 and the initial verbal report indicated the presence of significant abnormalities in the thalamus, periolandic and occipital areas.

The seizures eventually seized but the Claimant was found to be extremely floppy and unresponsive. At this time, there was a discussion about discontinuing intensive care owing to the poor prospects for the Claimant. However, the Claimant maintained her own respiration and was able to breathe herself by 20th January 2005. The Claimant was eventually allowed home on 17th February 2005.

The Claimant has been diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy. She has difficulty in communicating and poor vision. The Claimant also experiences feeding difficulties and will require full time care for the rest of her life. The Claimant also suffers from epileptic seizures several times a day and particularly at night during her sleep. Medical evidence which has been obtained indicates that the Claimant has a life expectancy of 25 years.

Claimant's case

The Claimant sustained injury and through her litigation friend, brought an action against the Defendant alleging that it was negligent in (i) misjudging the potential difficulty of the Claimant's delivery and the subsequent mismanagement of the delivery; (ii) failing to convert the Wrigley's forceps to the Anderson's forceps when the head was low in the vagina; (iii) failing to deliver the Claimant within 15 minutes of the commencement of the instrumental delivery and instead causing a delay in delivering the Claimant. The Claimant alleged that this delay caused the asphyxia and the subsequent cerebral palsy that she went on to suffer. It was alleged that the Claimant is likely to have avoided her subsequent brain damage if she had been born within the aforementioned 15 minute period.

Defendant's case

The Defendant admitted that that there had been an unreasonable delay in the delivery of the Claimant and that this had caused the brain damage that she went on to suffer. The Defendant accepted that substandard care had been provided to the Claimant at the time of her delivery.

Settlement

The claim settled out of court in the sum of £1,700,000 with additional periodical payments to be made on an annual basis for the rest of the Claimant's life. The lump sum element of the settlement was agreed on a global basis with no particular breakdown of this part of the damages. However, the following breakdown was estimated by the Claimant's solicitors:

General damages:- £230,000;
Past travel:- £1,500;
Past care:- £65,000;
Future travel:- £240,000;
Future aids and equipment:- £220,000;
Future therapy:- £578,615.

In connection the Claimant's future care and case management costs, she will also receive periodical payments in the amount of:

£86,500 from 2011 to 2015

£125,000 from 2016 to 2023

£200,000 from 2024 onwards