£5.5 million cerebral palsy award upheld

Posted: 14th December 2012

Lawyers representing a teenage boy who was awarded £5.5 million damages after a judge found that he had been starved of oxygen in the moments before his birth have fought off an attempt by NHS lawyers to strip him of the pay-out. After a detailed review of the evidence, the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier ruling that negligence had contributed to Nathan Popple’s catastrophic injuries.

NHSThe 15-year-old was delivered at Birmingham Women's Hospital at exactly 14.49 on November 21 1997 and a debate between experts over what happened in the final five minutes before his birth occupied a nine-day High Court hearing and two more days at the Court of Appeal. His lawyers argued that, had he been delivered by 14.44, he would have been uninjured; however the Birmingham Women’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust submitted that the damage to Nathan’s brain happened ‘some time remote from delivery’ in the last three days of his mother's labour.

Nathan was awarded £5.5 million compensation at the High Court in 2011 after a judge found that he had suffered a brief period of profound hypoxia due to signs of foetal distress having been missed by hospital staff. Dismissing the NHS Trust’s challenge to that ruling, the Court of Appeal said that it was ‘totally satisfied’ that the conclusions reached by the judge were open to him on the evidence.

Nathan needs 24-hour care and is looked after by his mother, her civil partner and his 16-year-old sister. He has no independent mobility, cannot sit up unaided and is mainly fed through a gastrostomy tube. He cannot speak and his life expectancy is reduced but, despite all his disabilities, his intellect is intact and he was described as an ‘apparently happy and well-cared for young man’.