Brain damage compensation
A Sheffield man, left with irreversible brain damage after a West Yorkshire hospital failed to provide the correct care to his mother at the time of his birth, has been awarded £3.25m in compensation.
Philip Bennett, now 20, from High Green, was awarded the sum in an out-of-court settlement at Sheffield High Court, after a 13-year legal battle.
Brain damage solicitor
He won his fight with help from solicitor Tom Mather, from national law firm Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield's Riverside offices. Mr Bennett has asymmetrical spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which was sustained around the time of his birth at Pontefract General Hospital on April 30, 1985.
Mr Mather said: "Philip's mother, Linda Bennett, was in her first pregnancy, when an ultrasound at 30 weeks showed him to be a very small baby. He had not developed further at 36 weeks and Mrs Bennett went into labour on April 25, 1985.
"However, her contractions subsided and labour was not eventually induced until the morning of April 30. During this, the baby became distressed and Philip was eventually delivered by ventouse (suction) extraction that evening."
Oxygen starvation at birth
Because he showed signs of oxygen starvation at birth, Philip was placed on a ventilator in the Special Care Baby Unit. On his second day he began to suffer fits and was treated with anticonvulsants and medication, to reduce the swelling of his brain. On day three, Philip was so poorly that his ventilator was switched off, but amazingly, he then began to breathe spontaneously.
His mother alleged that Pontefract General Hospital made several failings in the care provided:
- At 36 weeks, with the lack of growth indicated, Mrs Bennett should have been admitted for monitoring and delivery
- Labour should have been induced on April 25, not April 30.
- There were signs of foetal distress early in the labour which were disregarded. In addition to the delay in delivery, the decision to use suction was strongly criticised.
Mr Mather said: "Philip sustained significant and irreversible brain damage at the time of his birth, meaning he will always be entirely dependent on others in all aspects of his life. He requires 24 hour care and cannot be left unsupervised. He has specially adapted accommodation and relies on a wheelchair for mobility."
In 2004, Irwin Mitchell secured an interim payment of £500,000 from West Yorkshire Strategic Health Authority. This was used to purchase suitable accommodation for Mr Bennett, which could be adapted for his needs. The money also paid for a care regime to be set up, while his claim was investigated.
Mr Mather continued: "Today's hearing brings to an end the struggle Philip and his family have endured for 20 years. Since Philip's birth, Mrs Bennett has provided practically all of his care and the settlement approved by the court means Philip's needs will now be met."
Specialist brain damage solicitors
Prior to Irwin Mitchell being instructed to represent Philip, non-specialist solicitors had spent ten years investigating, but made very little progress. During this time, Philip and his family were very much alone and this case highlights the need for complex, high value claims of this type to be dealt with by firms who specialise in this area.
Philips mother, Linda Bennett, said: "I am very pleased with the settlement of my son's claim. I can now put the past behind me and move on, giving Philip the life he deserves. It has been very hard for us financially and emotionally, but he can now have the things he needs. I would like to thank Irwin Mitchell who helped us achieve this outcome, so Philip can have a better life."
Do you have a claim? If you or someone you know has been affected by brain damage, our solicitors may be able to help. Visit our brain injury claim section.