£13.2million compensation achieved 1 week before Trial after 10-year legal battle
On 14 July 2022, a now 42-year-old male, was awarded the total sum of £13.2million in compensation, after a High Court Judge in the Royal Courts of Justice approved the terms of settlement negotiated on his behalf.
At the time of the negligence, he was 31 years old, generally fit and well. He underwent successful surgery to remove a benign brain tumour. Three weeks later he developed a cerebrospinal fluid leak from a small head wound along with a fever. He attended A&E in March 2012, where, after a brief assessment by a junior doctor, he was negligently discharged home instead of being admitted to the hospital ward for observations.
He returned to A&E again 2 days later after his condition had deteriorated and he was subsequently diagnosed with meningitis, requiring immediate admission to the Intensive Care Unit. After this, he remained in Hospital and a rehabilitation unit for 7 months.
The Hospital admitted breaching their duty of care for failing to admit the man as an in-patient for ongoing observations and discharged him when it was inappropriate to do so. However, liability for the cause of his meningitis was denied and the Hospital Trust alleged that the infection would have developed in any event and therefore contended that there was no loss sustained.
The man suffered devastating injuries including a significant brain injury, neurological and neuropsychological dysfunction, and a spinal cord injury, this will eventually cause him to become a permanent wheelchair user.
Senior solicitor, Iain Dodd, and the legal team at the Fletchers Group acted on behalf of the man throughout the 10-year legal action. The first Queen’s Counsel instructed in the case became a High Court Judge. Afterwards, Gerard McDermott QC of King’s Chambers was instructed as Leading Counsel. When the case was 8 weeks away from Trial in 2022, Jasmine Chan of Kings chambers, was instructed as junior Counsel.
The man, who must remain anonymous due to a court order, suffered catastrophic injuries because of medical negligence arising out of a NHS Hospital in the North-East of England. They failed to properly care for and manage, his post-operative head wound. Tragically, he developed meningitis from the inadequate care with devasting results.
In pursuing the claim, Fletchers fought vigorously to establish that the meningitis was likely to have been caused by the failures of the Hospital. It was alleged that if the man had been admitted to Hospital when he first attended A&E. A CT or MRI scan and blood tests would have been performed along with continuing clinical observations. This would have alerted the doctors to the developing infection and intravenous antibiotics would have been commenced the day after his admission to Hospital. This would have avoided the development of meningitis, which was the underlying cause of his severe brain injury and spinal cord injury.
As the Hospital Trust denied that earlier intervention would have avoided the meningitis, High Court proceedings were commenced by Fletchers in 2016. After 2 years of hard-fought litigation, in 2018, just 3 weeks before the beginning of a 5-day Trial to determine liability, the legal teams reached an agreement on liability. The legal agreement enabled the man to recover 77.5% of the total compensation award for his brain and spinal cord injuries.
Over the next 4 years, interim payments of more than £1.5million were obtained by Fletchers for the man. This enabled him to purchase a large bungalow, have intensive therapies, a suitable motor vehicle, and full-time day and night professional care.
Continued efforts by Fletchers were made to encourage settlement of the claim. Unfortunately, 3 planned ‘settlement meetings’ were postponed by the lawyers acting on behalf of the Hospital Trust. In addition, the Hospital’s own independent expert evidence to purport their valuation of the claim was delayed by 5 months, which instigated Fletchers to take decisive action.
The medical experts instructed on behalf of the man summarised the case as being “extraordinarily complicated”. In all, more than 30 different independent experts were required to provide evidence in detailed reports for the court in the case due to its enormous complexity.
A High Court order was successfully achieved by Gerard McDermott QC and Iain Dodd, which ordered the Hospital to provide their evidence within 1 week or they would be ‘debarred’ or prohibited, from relying on their evidence. Following this, the legal teams finally attended a ‘settlement meeting’ at the 4th attempt but a deal was unable to be reached.
Gerard and Iain fought robustly in seeking to secure the maximum amount of compensation for the man and the final offer made by lawyers for the Hospital Trust at the meeting was more than £2.5million less than the amount that was eventually recovered 3 months later.
An agreement for compensation was reached by the legal teams just 1 week prior to a 10-day Trial. The sum of £13.2 million was approved by the High Court 1 week later. With the 77.5% liability agreement in place, the man will receive more than £10 million in compensation because of the Hospital Trust’s negligence. This award was split as a lump sum plus annual payments for the rest of his life.
The team at Fletchers was led by Iain Dodd; supported by Nina Taylor, Claire Lloyd-Durney and Chloe Mead. Iain stated “This was a monumentally challenging case that required a dedicated and massive effort by all those involved. Throughout the past decade, the man and his loving wife have been through so many difficulties, and it has been our privilege to represent such a wonderful couple. The team and I are thrilled with securing such a substantial compensation award which will enable the man to have the maximum comfort, security and fulfilling life options, despite his immense daily challenges. I wish to thank them for their fortitude and positivity. I am also very thankful to the many people engaged in this case for their fantastic support, collaboration and input. It has been a first-class team effort”.