Background

X was born in Poland on 8th February 1968 and she died at a hospice in Milton Keynes on the 15th December 2008 aged 40.

X had a history of ovarian cysts managed and monitored conservatively by the Hospital from 1999 until April 2005 when a scan revealed that one of the cysts had grown significantly.

The cyst was removed on 13th May 2005 and X was discharged home. She was advised that if there was anything amiss she would be contacted.

X was not contacted, she presumed all was well and she and her husband decided to try for a baby, she became pregnant in approximately November 2005.

On 5th July 2006 she gave birth to a little boy thereafter she complained of significant stomach pains and a scan prepared on 28th July 2006 revealed a large cyst. A review of her records led to the discovery that the cyst removed on 13th May 2005 had been reported as cancerous and X should have had the ovary removed in May 2005, if the ovary had been removed she probably would have survived her cancer.

X transferred her management from the Defendant Trust to the Royal Marsden Hospital and the treatment plan was chemotherapy and surgery.

X had 3 chemotherapy sessions and then debulking surgery at the end of January 2007. She then had a further 4 cycles of chemotherapy and at the end of April 2007 was told that she was in remission. Sadly the remission did not last and by February 2008 it was discovered that the cancer had spread to X's liver, she had 6 further sessions of chemotherapy largely for palliative reasons and by September 2008 X had been admitted to a hospice in Milton Keynes for palliative care. Sadly X died on 15th December 2008.

Legal case

X felt desperately let down by the Trust and sent a letter of complaint at the end of March 2007 initially the Trust admitted that X should have been recalled but denied that this had any causative consequences. When X realised her cancer was terminal she instructed Russell-Cooke Solicitors to investigate a claim on her behalf and made her husband promise that he would pursue a claim following her death which he did.

Medical evidence

Preliminary reports on liability and causation were obtained from a Consultant Gynaecologist and a Consultant Histopathologist. Pending receipt of the same a detailed Letter of Claim was sent to the Trust on 8th April 2010 and in a Letter of Response dated 23rd August 2010 the Trust admitted breach of duty and causation namely it conceded that if X's histopathology report had been followed up she would have undergone a laparotomy and removal of her left ovary which would have cured her of her disease.
The Trust indicated an early desire to explore settlement and a Settlement Meeting was held on 15th June 2011.

X's husband was in a precarious emotional position following his wife's death and a report was obtained from a Consultant Psychiatrist which confirmed a diagnosis of grief related depression.

Other evidence

Detailed Witness Statements were obtained from friends and family members, it should be remembered that X was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the time that her baby was only a few weeks old and both required a great deal of care and support.

Detailed Witness Statements were taken from friends and family identifying the level of care and support provided and dealing with the great distress and suffering of X and her immediate family.

A Detailed Dependency Assessment was carried out including the commissioning of a care report.

Settlement

The figure agreed was £600,000.00

a rough breakdown of the award is as follows:-

General Damages for X's pain suffering and loss of amenity -                   £73,000.00

General Damages for psychiatric injury of X's husband -                          £12,500.00

Loss of special love and affection of a wife and mother -                          £10,000.00

Statutory Bereavement Award -                                                             £11,800.00

                                                                                                        £107,300.00

Past financial losses

Past Care -                                                                                      £128,000.00

Past child care -                                                                                £35,000.00

Housekeeper -                                                                                        £500.00

Case Manager -                                                                                   £7,000.00

Funeral expenses -                                                                              £2,500.00

Loss of earnings -                                                                                £7,000.00

Travel -                                                                                                £8,000.00

Polish lessons -                                                                                     £670.00

Swimming lessons -                                                                               £250.00

Piano lessons -                                                                                      £525.00

Translators fees -                                                                                   £260.00

                                                                                                      £189,705.00

Future losses

Future Care -                                                                                  £212,995.00

Housekeeping and DIY -                                                                    £29,000.00

Polish lessons -                                                                                £30,000.00

Swimming and Piano lessons -                                                            £8,000.00

Future Dependency -                                                                         £16,000.00

Private medical treatment for X's husband -                                           £7,000.00

                                                                                                      £302,995.00

Costs

The Trust also agreed to pay X's legal fees.

Solicitor comments

This was a tragic case involving a young woman who was deprived of a significant opportunity to treat her ovarian cancer and no explanation was ever provided.

Legal team

Claimant's Solicitor: Janice Gardner
Claimant's Barrister Adam Korn

Defendant's Solicitor Jeremy Jukes, Kennedy's
Defendant's Barrister Jane Mischon