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Anonymity orders for two clients awarded compensation for injuries at birth

Clinical negligence partner Anne Winyard settles two important brain injury cases for her clients, and secures anonymity orders

Photo of newborn: istock

20 January 2012

Anne Winyard’s team has recently achieved damages settlements in clinical negligence for two of its vulnerable clients. In addition we applied for, and were granted, anonymity orders from the court to prevent our clients’ identities as recipients of substantial damages awards being published.

Cerebral palsy

HZX is a six year old girl who has cerebral palsy as a result of the mismanagement of her birth. She is cognitively and physically disabled, and wholly dependent on others for all activities of daily living. Her injuries mean that she is unlikely to ever walk, talk or properly see.

Her parents brought a claim for damages on her behalf against the Dorset County Hospital. The Defendant settled H’s claim in December 2011, agreeing substantial damages which will secure a comprehensive care package to meet H’s complex needs for the rest of her life.

LYZ, whose father served in the British army, was born in a British Military Hospital in Germany. L suffered an unusual hypoxic injury to the part of his brain called the hippocampi – an area associated with memory process – resulting from acute asphyxia due to mismanagement of his birth. The unusual nature of his injury means that, while L has been largely physically spared, he has a profoundly disabling impairment to his memory function and requires considerable supervision and assistance for all parts of everyday living. L is now a young adult and lives with his mother in the UK.

L’s mother brought an action in clinical negligence against the Ministry of Defence on L’s behalf. The MoD finally admitted liability in September 2011 and a damages settlement was agreed between the parties earlier this month.

Anonymity orders

Many of our clients want us to help them publicise the tragic errors that caused their injuries. Others want privacy. The families of both HZX and LYZ did not want their identities as recipients of substantial damages to be published as they feared they would be at risk of exploitation by those seeking to take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

We therefore applied for anonymity orders in both cases on the basis that it was necessary to protect our clients’ Article 8 ECHR right to privacy and a family life. The Judge agreed with our arguments and granted anonymity orders for our clients which preclude anyone from publishing any detail about the case ‘if it is likely to lead members of the public to identify the Claimant as the Claimant in these proceedings’.

As a result, our clients and their families will be able to put these tragic events behind them and live their lives in peace. However, the circumstances of the injuries and the identity of the Defendants have not been withheld, so the Defendant hospitals have still been publicly held to account. We hope that these heartbreaking cases will result in lessons learned and the implementation of better practices in the future.

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