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Published On: January 22, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

Jon Nicholson settles neonatal infection claim for £7 million

On 21 December 2020, the High Court approved a settlement for a total of £7 million in a neonatal clinical negligence brought by Jon Nicholson.

The court made an order to protect our client’s anonymity, so that he is now referred to as FGH.  He was born in good health, but when he was just a week old his GP referred him to his local hospital because of an eye infection.  He was seen by a junior doctor who diagnosed conjunctivitis, failed to obtain swabs to test for a bacterial or viral infection, reassured FGH’s mother and discharged him without planning to see him again and without advising his mother to return to hospital if he became unwell or developed a rash.

FGH did develop some spots a few days later, but his mother did not take to him to hospital immediately because she had not been advised to do so.  He was eventually referred to the hospital again by the GP a week after the original attendance when he was very unwell, drowsy, and not feeding.  He was found to have encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) caused by a viral infection.

FGH was left with permanent brain damage causing some weakness to the right side of his body, a mild learning disability and a language impairment.

FGH’s parents instructed Jon when FGH was 8 years old and his difficulties were becoming more apparent.  Jon investigated the case by obtaining the medical records, witness statements from family members and independent expert evidence.  He then presented a claim to the hospital trust arguing that if their doctor’s failure to take swabs, arrange follow up or give appropriate advice fell below any reasonable standard of competence and that, if the doctor had done these things, the infection would have been diagnosed earlier and FGH’s brain injury would have been avoided.  The hospital disputed this and so Jon commenced court proceedings.  After this, the hospital eventually conceded that they were responsible for the vast majority of FGH’s disabilities.

By this stage, FGH was 11 years old and the experts instructed by Jon advised that he was still too young to assess his long-term disabilities and needs.  Jon therefore arranged for the case to be “stayed” (put on hold) until after FGH’s 18th birthday.  In the meantime, he obtaining interim payments totalling more than £900,000 to cover the costs of FGH’s needs until then including specialist schooling, therapies and additional accommodation costs.

After FGH’s 18th birthday, he was reassessed by the relevant experts and the probable lifelong needs resulting from his disability were fully quantified and costed.  The legal team led by Jon were then able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement without the need for a trial.  This included a lump sum of £3,250,000 plus annual tax-free payments linked to an appropriate index which will continue throughout FGH’s lifetime (even if he lives much longer than estimated).  The total value of the settlement was more than £7 million.

* Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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