£4.5 million for ‘locked in’ boy

Posted: 21st March 2013

Lawyers representing a seven-year-old boy who has been ‘trapped in his own body’ by devastating birth injuries have achieved a £4.5 million settlement of his clinical negligence claim against the NHS. Although the boy’s intellectual capacity is believed to be largely intact, he suffers from acute cerebral palsy affecting all four limbs and his ability to communicate is severely impaired.

OutpatientsThe boy was delivered in a profoundly fragile state at an NHS hospital in 2005 with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. His lawyers claimed hospital staff failed to properly monitor the progress of his delivery or to pick up signs of foetal distress. His brain injuries resulted from oxygen starvation in the period shortly before his birth. However, despite his severe disabilities, the High Court was told that there is evidence that he has a ‘higher level of understanding than is immediately apparent’. His father had said of him: ‘He is a lovely boy with a wicked sense of humour but he is trapped in his own body’.

The settlement of the boy’s case took the form of a lump sum of £2,180,000, plus annual, index-linked and tax-free payments to cover the enormous costs of his care for the rest of his life. The total package is valued at £4,553,110. Part of the money will go towards buying a specially adapted £770,000 bungalow to accommodate the boy and his family.

In approving the settlement, Mrs Justice Swift paid glowing tribute to the boy’s parents for the ‘wonderful’ care that they have given him throughout his life. The defendant, an NHS trust, did not dispute liability in the case and, through its lawyers, expressed ‘profound regret’ for what happened.