Watchus v Ministry of Defence – QBD 13 October 1997

Claimant: Ross Watchus, 7

Incident: Medical negligence

Injuries: Ministry of Defence, which ran British military hospital in Kowloon where claimant was born, made no formal admission of liability but offered settlement sum. Claimant's mother said to have been given excessive doses of a drug to induce delivery causing her uterus to contract so fiercely her baby was starved of oxygen. Hospital staff said to have failed to pick up on signs of foetal distress. Claimant suffers from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Paralysis affects the left side of his body particularly severely. Although his mental abilities are good, his left hand is almost useless and he will probably only ever be able to work in a sheltered environment.

Award: £600,000 agreed damages

Judge: Judge John Hamilton Plaintiff's counsel: John Grace QC

Plaintiff's solicitors: Boyes Turner and Burrows

Whitley v West Kent Health Authority – QBD 13 October 1997

Claimant: Katie Whitley, 9

Incident: Medical negligence

Injuries: Claimant suffered oxygen starvation at birth resulting in severe brain damage. She has been left profoundly physically disabled but her intellect has been unaffected, leaving her fully aware of the contrast between herself and her healthy twin sister. Claimant was delivered by Caesarean after staff at Maidstone Hospital realised her mother's labour was not progressing normally. However, in the last half hour before her birth she suffered severe oxygen deprivation. Claimed that cause was negligence by medical staff. Health authority denied liability but settlement reached shortly before contested hearing was due to take place.

Award: £1,282,000, agreed damages

Judge: Mr Justice Alliott Plaintiff's counsel: David Richardson

Plaintiff's solicitors: Charles Russell