Background

Mrs Osuch was born on 24/02/1956. She was a married lady, a housewife and mother to 3 children. She also worked part-time as a domestic cleaner.

In December 1999 she became poorly with a bad cough. She got progressively worse and took herself off to casualty at the Charing Cross Hospital on 13th December 1999, chest x-rays were taken which clearly showed that Mrs Osuch was suffering from pneumonia in both lungs. However, for some unexplained reason the doctor in casualty made a diagnosis of a chest pain and discharged Mrs Osuch with painkilling medication.

Over the course of the next few days, Mrs Osuch got worse, on 16th December 1999, she requested a home visit from her GP but he declined to visit and instead repeated the diagnosis that had been made by the casualty doctor a couple of days earlier.

On 17th December 1999 in the middle of the night, Mrs Osuch called an ambulance as she was increasingly fearful for her health and finding it difficult to breathe. She was taken back to Charing Cross Hospital and a further chest x-ray was carried out which showed extensive pneumonia in both lungs which was much worse than the last x-ray.

Despite being in hospital and receiving proper care, Mrs Osuch continued to deteriorate, she went into multi-organ failure and fell into a coma which lasted 6 weeks.

Initially the doctors feared that Mrs Osuch would be left in a permanent vegetative state. However, she gradually began to improve and she regained consciousness on 5th February 2000. Mrs Osuch suffered from a profound brain injury which left her physically and mentally incapacitated and dependent upon others to meet her needs.

Mrs Osuch first approached Russell-Cooke in December 2007, almost 8 years after the incident in question. Despite the delay, Public Funding was granted to enable Mrs Osuch to investigate her case.

Legal case

Mrs Osuch's main complaint was levelled at her GP, she felt very let down that he did not carry out a home visit.

Medical evidence

Preliminary reports were obtained from a GP expert and a Chest Physician. The GP expert said that Mrs Osuch's GP was negligent for failing to visit her and prescribe antibiotics. The Chest Physician said that the A&E doctor was negligent for failing to properly interpret an x-ray, which clearly showed that Mrs Osuch was suffering from pneumonia which needed treatment with antibiotics.

Further reports were then commissioned from a Neurologist, a Neuroradiologist, a Consultant Psychiatrist and a Consultant Neuropsychologist.

Further reports were commissioned from an Occupational Therapist and an Architect and a detailed Schedule of Financial Losses was prepared.

Other evidence

Detailed Witness Statements were obtained from Mrs Osuch's friends and family members, these Statements talked about the changes in Mrs Osuch since her injury and also provided information about the past and current level of care provided by her family, predominantly her husband.

Legal case

A Letter of Claim was sent to the hospital and to the GP in February 2010.
A Letter of Response was received from the hospital on 3rd September 2010 which admitted negligence but the letter failed to address the crucial consequences of the negligence and therefore legal proceedings had to be issued at Court on 22nd October 2010.

On 19th November 2010 the hospital admitted that prescription of antibiotics on 13th December 1999 would have avoided all of Mrs Osuch's injuries, namely she would have made a full recovery from pneumonia if she had been given antibiotics.

Proceedings were issued in the High Court on 22nd October 2010 and sent to the Defendant on 18th February 2011.

An Application was made for an interim payment in the sum of £250,000 and this was agreed on 11th May 2011.

Judgment was entered for Mrs Osuch on 11th May 2011 and all other steps in the Court proceedings addressed the value of her claim.

Settlement

The figure agreed was £1,172,000 plus annual periodical payments of £80,000 per annum.

Costs

The Trust also agreed to pay Mrs Osuch's legal fees. Mrs Osuch had the benefit of Public Funding and when that funding came to an end, she entered into a "no win, on fee" Agreement with us.

Solicitor's comments

This was a tragic case which struck down a young woman in her prime. Our Chest Physician said this was a case of "barn door" negligence, with catastrophic consequences to our client and her family. There were many difficult issues in this case, not least the fact that Mrs Osuch failed to instruct solicitors until 8 years after the act of negligence, which meant her claim was potentially out of time, there was also an issue as to whether or not she had capacity to instruct solicitors.

The settlement gave hope to a family that had been totally devastated and impoverished by this incident.

Legal team

Claimant:
Solicitor: Janice Gardner, Partner at Russell-Cooke
Counsel: Simon Wheatley, 7 Bedford Row

Defendant:
Solicitor: Paul Thompson, Capsticks LLP
Counsel: Katie Gallop, Sarjeants Inn