13 January 2012
In December 2011, Russell Levy
, head of the clinical negligence
department at Leigh Day & Co, negotiated a settlement on behalf a child who suffered a catastrophic brain injury
at birth. Louis Rodrigues was born at Darent Valley Hospital in Kent in 2004. His mother was admitted to hospital for an induction of labour when her pregnancy became overdue. The obstetric team missed signs indicating that the mother's uterus was on the verge of rupturing, and that the baby was in distress. Sadly, Louis was born in an extremely poor condition and required resuscitation. He was on a ventilator for 24 hours before he took his first breath by himself.
As well as her physical injuries, Louis’ mother was naturally traumatised by her ordeal. Louis’ father, who witnessed the events unfold, also suffered a psychiatric injury. Louis is now very seriously disabled. He has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy
as a direct result of the brain injury
he sustained during his birth. His care needs are very high as he is gastrostomy-fed (ie through a surgically inserted tube), has developmental delay and epilepsy.
Russell conducted a thorough forensic investigation into this very complex birth injury claim
and was able to elicit an early admission of negligence from the Hospital Trust in 2006. The parents’ own claims were able to be settled at that time, but because Louis was very young, it was difficult to predict how his disabilities and his needs would develop as he got older. An early very substantial payment was awarded by the Court to enable the family to move into suitable accommodation but the meticulous work involved in assessing how much it costs to care properly for a brain injured child and meet his needs for the rest of his life was started in July 2010 when Louis reached six years of age.
Russell sought opinions from experts in neurology, psychology, assistive technology, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, accommodation, care and occupational therapy to build a picture of what life is like for a severely brain injured child and his family, and to identify his medical, care and therapeutic needs and to estimate how much it would cost to provide for these needs for the rest of the child’s life.
Russell constructed a final settlement which has allowed the Louis’ parents to buy him a property which has been adapted for his needs and a disability vehicle both of which have made a massive difference to his life. He will also receive annual sums for the rest of his life so that his family can employ carers, buy equipment, and meet his day-to-day expenses which are much more expensive than those of a child who has not been injured.
Mr Justice Popplewell, who approved the settlement in the High Court in December 2011, said that he regarded it as a good settlement that would allow the family to continue to provide excellent, exceptional and dedicated care to the child.
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