5 April 2011
Russell Levy, head of the clinical negligence department at Leigh Day, and his team have settled two separate claims against two defendant Hospital Trusts in as many weeks.
Russell has a special interest in birth injury and spinal injury cases and has a reputation for his forensic style of investigation and negotiation skills. He was instrumental in arranging last year’s important “Death Matters” symposium which focused on litigation in cases which resulted in fatal injuries and challenged the unfair approach adopted in the UK which results in only small sums being paid out families who have lost their loved ones through wholly avoidable and often admitted acts of negligence. Russell is committed to working towards achieving the correct and fair amount of damages for bereaved relatives. Sadly, as the law stands, the reality is that in these types of cases families are awarded only modest sums of damages, which do not in any way reflect the degree of pain and suffering they have been through.
Russell’s recent settlements go some way to redressing the balance.
Birth injury brain damage
The first claim which Russell settled this past fortnight was against Maidstone General Hospital. He acted for the family of a young boy who was severely brain injured at birth and developed cerebral palsy as a result. It transpired during Russell’s investigations that this mother had most probably been given an overdose of the drug syntocinon. Syntocinon is commonly used to bring on contractions in a mother whose labour is not progressing. Using this drug in labour requires close monitoring of the mother and baby as there is a risk of injury and death to both if things go wrong. In this case the baby’s heart rate dropped and so the drug was stopped. However, the drip was left in the mother’s arm and later that day, the midwife who suspected the drip was not working, flushed it with saline solution. In doing so, she inadvertently administered a bolus of syntocinon to the mother. The mother suddenly had rapid and strong contractions which cut off the oxygen supply to her baby who very sadly suffered catastrophic brain injury which left him both severely physically and mentally disabled. His mother also suffered a psychiatric injury due to the ordeal she went through. The boy died of his injuries just over a week after his second birthday.
Russell agreed damages with the defendant of £285,000.
Mismanaged birth resulted in cerebral palsy
The second claim settled by Russell and his team last week was for the parents of a little girl who was born at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. The staff failed to recognise, during the last stages of delivery, that the child was in distress, despite the baby’s heart-rate readings dropping to dangerous levels which indicated that she was being starved of oxygen. By the time the emergency of the situation was realised the opportunity to rescue the little girl from harm was lost. The result of this was that the little girl developed cerebral palsy and epilepsy and requiring 24 hour care. She died of her injuries at the age of nine having suffered tremendously every day of her short life. Russell negotiated a settlement of £320,000 for the family.
Family life in both cases was completely torn apart by these tragedies which were both wholly avoidable.
For more information please contact Russell Levy or his assistant Anna Brothers on 020 7650 1200.
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