Litigation Personal Injury 11/01/99

Martijn Willem Otto Biesheuvel v Andrew Birrell (1999) – QBD (Eady J) 21 December 1998

Plaintiff: Male, 22

Incident: Road traffic accident

Injuries: Plaintiff was a rear-seat passenger in a car being driven by the defendant. The defendant lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a row of parked cars. Neither the defendant nor the other three passengers were badly hurt, but the plaintiff broke his neck in the accident and was left paralysed in all four limbs. Plaintiff was six feet four inches tall and there was speculation that his height may have exacerbated his injuries. Plaintiff was completely paralysed by the accident and was confined to a wheelchair. He required extensive care and assistance in the day-to-day aspects of his life and could not be left alone for long periods of time. The plaintiff had just completed a business administration degree at Bath University at the time of the accident and was about to start work at a firm of accountants in London. It was found that his condition was permanent and that he would never be able to work. Liability admitted.

Award: #9.2m estimated

Plaintiff's solicitor: Harris & Cartwright

Plaintiff's counsel:

Mr Christopher Gardner QC, Mr Gerwyn Samuel and

Miss Rhiannon Jones

Heath v Thomas (1998) – QBD (Holland J) 18 December 1998

Plaintiff: New-born female

Incident: Road traffic accident

Injuries: Plaintiff's mother was involved in a car accident while pregnant with the plaintiff. Unborn child suffered injuries in the womb and as a result was born suffering from cerebral palsy. Because of her condition, the plaintiff was severely disabled on the right side of her body, unable to walk, talk or use her right hand and possessed the mental abilities of a three- to five-year-old. She was totally dependent on the care of others and would continue to need such assistance in her daily life. The plaintiff attended a special needs school and was heard to be a happy child, despite her disabilities.

Award: #2,010,000 total damages (out of court settlement)

Plaintiff's solicitor: Field Fisher Waterhouse

Plaintiff's counsel: John Grace QC

Green v North Essex Health Authority (1998) – QBD (Thomas J) 21 December 1998

Plaintiff: New-born male

Incident: Medical negligence

Injuries: Plaintiff born at Princess Alexandra hospital, Harlow, March 1992. His lungs had not fully developed at time of birth. He contracted jaundice and required a blood transfusion. Owing to an error by medical staff, plaintiff was transfused with blood intended for another baby with the same surname. The plaintiff required O-positive blood type but was given A-negative. Suffered severe anaemic reaction, heart failure and convulsions and as a result, his brain was starved of oxygen. Plaintiff left suffering from cerebral palsy. Liability admitted.

Award: #2,400,000 damages

Plaintiff's solicitor: Russell Jones & Walker

Plaintiff's counsel: Robert Owen QC

Sparks v Royal Hospitals NHS Trust (1998) – QBD (McKinnon J) 21 December 1998

Plaintiff: Married female, 57

Incident: Medical negligence

Injuries: Plaintiff suffered from carcinoma of the mouth and right jaw. She had surgery to remove her lymph nodes, followed by a skin graft from the abdomen and an unsuccessful bone graft. She underwent a second unsuccessful bone graft operation, which compromised the limb's circulation. Her lower left leg necessitated amputation, due to compression damage to blood vessels.

Award: #306,539 damages

Plaintiff's solicitor: Landau & Scanlan

Plaintiff's counsel: David Tucker