Rachelle Mahapatra Wins Partner Of The Year At The Yorkshire Legal Awards

Leeds Born Medical Negligence Expert Joined By Client To Celebrate Victory

14.10.2016

Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A lawyer from York has been named Partner of the Year at The Yorkshire Legal Awards after helping to secure lifelong funding for a young boy who was left brain damaged after mistakes made by medics during his birth.

Rachelle Mahapatra, is Head of the Medical Negligence team in the Leeds office of national law firm, Irwin Mitchell who specialises in birth injuries.

The awards, which took place on 13 October at New Dock Hall in Leeds to bring together the region’s legal community and recognise their achievements, saw Rachelle pick up the coveted prize which was decided by a judging panel prior to the ceremony.

Yorkshire born, Rachelle, who attended Woodhouse Grove School in Bradford, before studying at York Law School and Leeds Metropolitan University, is widely acknowledged as one of the leaders in her field and has handled some of the most significant case law in recent years.

Rachelle, who joined the firm in 2002, said: 

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“I’m thrilled to be recognised by the Yorkshire Legal Awards. Even though it has my name on it, I wouldn’t have achieved so much of what I have without the brilliant team at Irwin Mitchell supporting me.

“I think I speak on behalf of us all when I say part of the reason for our success come down to the fact we are all so passionate about what we do. It’s not just passion for law and justice but it’s the amazing clients and people we work with and for, it’s an honour.”
Rachelle Mahapatra, Partner

Clients, Joanna Van Berckel and Carolyn Rigg, from Harrogate, in North Yorkshire, were at the ceremony last night in support of Rachelle, after she helped get justice for their sons Kit and Jack who both suffered a brain injury at birth following errors by those involved in their delivery.

During Joanna’s labour at Harrogate District Hospital medical staff failed to recognise that the baby was in distress and to correctly interpret test results and as a consequence, Kit was born with no heartbeat and needed resuscitating. 

After being left with a brain injury, Kit was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy, which causes involuntary movements, has left him unable to speak, sit without aid, move independently or feed himself. 

Rachelle and her team secured a full admission of liability from Harrogate Hospital NHS Foundation Trust that the delay in Kit's delivery, caused Kit’s neurological injuries.

At the High Court in Leeds, a judge approved a settlement of £9.872 million to provide lifelong care and rehabilitation for Kit.

Commenting after the hearing, Kit’s mother, Joanna said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Rachelle has won this award and having experienced her work first-hand I can say she wholeheartedly deserves it.

“We are deeply grateful to Rachelle and her team at Irwin Mitchell for their committed approach in ensuring Kit's claim was dealt with professionally and with Kit's best interests at the heart of the claim. Thanks to her, we’ve been able to move forward with our lives, focussing upon ensuring the happiness and fulfilment of Kit's life, and that of his brothers.”

As well as tirelessly fighting for the rights of her clients, Rachelle also manages to find time to play a key role in working with local charities and was a trustee of the Dogs Trust for 16 years.