£75,000 Settlement After Birth Injury Leaves Wolverhampton Boy With Damaged Shoulder

17.12.2009


A nine year old Wolverhampton boy has been awarded compensation of £75,000 after an injury, caused during his birth, left him with a severely damaged shoulder and a life- long weakness in his left arm.

Liam Homfray suffers from Erbs Palsy, a condition that affects the nerves in the shoulder, which is most commonly caused as a result of damage during a traumatic birth.

During baby Liam’s birth at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton on 19th August 2000, it is alleged that his Mum, Donna Homfray, was not placed in the correct delivery position by midwives. Liam’s shoulders became stuck and medical notes have since revealed that a midwife had to rotate his shoulders to deliver him.

Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust has refused to accept liability for Liam’s injuries but despite this, has now agreed to pay £75,000 in an out of court settlement. Because of Liam’s age, the settlement needed to be approved this week (Wednesday 16th December) by the High Court in Birmingham.

Caroline Stokes, a medical negligence expert with Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who represented the family, said: “Although it’s not unusual for a baby’s shoulders to become stuck during delivery, there is a recognised procedure for dealing with this situation which does not appear to have happened here. It seems most probable that Liam’s injury was caused by the midwife incorrectly rotating Liam’s shoulders by twisting his head.”

Liam has since had to undergo surgery on his shoulder which left him in plaster for 9 weeks. He continues to suffer pain and he will have a permanent weakness in his left arm and shoulder.

His Mum, Donna Homfray, commented: “To look at him, you wouldn’t immediately realise there’s anything wrong with Liam, but his Erb’s Palsy limits him in so many ways and he gets very frustrated that he cannot do all the things that other little boys his age are able to.

“Last Christmas he had a bike, which he has since been trying to learn how to ride.  However, the braking system needs to be adapted for his safety because he has insufficient strength in his left arm to apply the brakes.

“When we went on holiday in the summer, he wasn’t able to carry a bucket of water on the beach because he's not got the strength in his arm. When you carry a bucket, you lift your arm away from your body otherwise the bucket would knock your legs. He can’t lift his arm away from his body, and so he leans over to compensate. He will always be like that.

“Even little things like drinking a cup of tea cause him problems. Because he can’t use his one arm he has to use both arms to balance the cup or he ends up tipping it to one side.”

Caroline Stokes added: “This week’s compensation settlement will be held by the court for Liam until he reaches the age of 18. The money will assist him when he is an adult, particularly as his injury may well affect his employment prospects in later life.

“Donna and Kevin Homfray’s decision to pursue legal action was taken not only to provide for the interests of their son, but also to gain answers as to how such an apparently fundamental midwifery error could have happened.

“As the Trust has refused to formally accept liability, despite agreeing a sizeable out of court settlement, we have had no assurances that any of the midwives involved in Liam’s birth have been retrained and Mr & Mrs Homfray remain concerned that lessons at New Cross Hospital appear not to have been learned.”