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simon mansfield

Posted 7 October 2016
by Simon Mansfield

Record damages for girl with Erb’s Palsy – £1,250,000

Simon Mansfield, Associate Solicitor was instructed by a 20 year old girl (C) who suffered a severe brachial plexus injury during her birth at a West Hertfordshire Hospital in 1996.

Despite undergoing 10 operations many of which were attempting to stabilise the shoulder joint, C sadly made a very poor recovery from her injury.  She was left with limited function in her left arm and generalised muscle weakness throughout the limb, including her wrist and hand.  As a result she was only able to move her arm through a limited range and required help with many activities of daily living.

In addition, and rather uniquely, she also suffers from severe muscular and neuropathic pain which required extensive medication including, gabapentin, morphine and amitriptyline in the past. The medication required to manage the pain had significant side effects, leading in particular to fatigue and dizziness.  When taking the medication her sleep is particularly disturbed and as a result C was left in a catch 22 situation of either being in excruciating pain or drifting through the day in a haze, asleep for up to 18 hours per day.

The severe muscular and neuropathic pain, the cause of which has never been fully understood, has also had psychological consequences and led to C suffering from severe depression.

Tozers were instructed to take over conduct of the claim at a late stage in proceedings when the family lost faith in their solicitors.   With only a matter of weeks before crucial quantum evidence was due to be served, Tozers took over conduct of the claim and negotiated a postponement.  This enabled the obtaining of updated witness evidence, preparation of expert reports and of a coherent case to properly value the claim.

The projection of C’s future was particularly difficult given an uncertain prognosis – both physical and psychological. The medical evidence however was that severe pain was likely to be present for between 4 to 6 months out of 12 for the remainder of C’s life.

At a recent settlement meeting a few weeks before Trial, Tozers negotiated a settlement of £1,250,000, a record figure for an Erb’s Palsy claim. The settlement figure included significantly more than £300,000 in lost earnings to reflect the fact that C’s working capacity was likely to be limited to those months of the year when she was not in severe pain.

The case had previously almost settled for £200,000 before agreement at this sum was abandoned, literally at the Court door.

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About the author

simon mansfield

Simon Mansfield

Associate

Associate within the clinical negligence team and a member of Devon and Exeter Medico-Legal Association