Jon Nicholson settles cerebral palsy claim for £16 million
Jon Nicholson has achieved a settlement worth a total of £16 million for an eight year old client with severe cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence at the time of his birth.
When approving the settlement, the court made an order to protect our client’s anonymity, so that he is now referred to as STU. He was born in October 2008 following an induction of labour because his mother was suffering from high blood pressure during pregnancy. During the night, STU’s mother experienced very painful contractions, but the midwife just told her to stop complaining, because “That is how it is”. The baby’s heartbeat was not checked until the following morning, when it was found to be pathologically abnormal. The hospital eventually performed an emergency caesarean section, but by then it was too late and STU sustained a severe brain injury.
STU was left with spastic quadriplegia, a profound learning disability, visual impairment and epilepsy. At the time of Jon’s instruction in October 2010, the family were living in wholly inappropriate accommodation with no help with care, no specialised equipment and minimal support from statutory services.
Within 12 months of his instruction, Jon had fully investigated the case with the assistance of some of the country’s leading medical experts and was able to send a detailed letter to the NHS setting out the mistakes made and why STU should be compensated for his devastating injuries. The NHS took 12 months to investigate and respond and then strongly disputed any liability. Jon then promptly commenced court proceedings and within three months the NHS had changed their mind and admitted liability in full. The hospital also formally apologised to STU’s mother for what had happened to him.
At this time, STU was still only four years old and our medical experts advised that it was not yet possible to assess his long term disabilities and needs. The case was therefore put on hold until his seventh birthday, but during this period Jon obtained interim payments totalling £1,250,000 to ensure that his immediate needs were met.
Jon appointed a case manager who was able to organise the renting and adaption of appropriate accommodation near to a good specialist school; a team of employed carers; the latest equipment and adapted transport; and private therapies to supplement the statutory provision. The interim payments funded this support and also the additional costs of holidays (including a trip abroad) and of a professional deputy appointed by the Court of Protection to manage STU’s funds.
Following STU’s seventh birthday, Jon arranged for his future needs to be fully quantified and costed with the assistance of a team of experts. The NHS legal team obtained their own expert reports on these issues and the two sides then met to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. A settlement package was amicably agreed and included a lump sum of £4,750,000; lifetime tax-free annual payments linked to carer’s earnings (£240,000 per annum to age 19 and £300,000 per annum thereafter) and an indemnity whereby the NHS would pay for STU to attend the family’s preferred specialist secondary school if the local education authority would not fund this. The total value of the settlement over STU’s estimated lifetime exceeds £16 million in today’s money.
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