Lawyers representing a 14-year-old girl who suffered profound brain damage during her birth in an NHS maternity unit – after a doctor was allegedly delayed in coming to her aid by a locked security door – have settled her clinical negligence claim for a compensation package worth £5 million.
Lucie Ross, her five-foot tall mother’s second child, was born at Bedford Hospital in December 1998 after a difficult labour during which her head was delivered but the rest of her body became stuck for about 10 minutes. Due to the stresses placed on Lucie during this period she was ‘asphyxiated and flat’ when delivered and required emergency resuscitation. Her lawyers claimed that a paediatrician arrived on the scene a full 15 minutes after an emergency bell was sounded, having been held up by the security door.
Lucie was left with severe cognitive and physical disabilities as well as a reduced life expectancy due to the hypoxic brain damage she suffered. On her behalf, her lawyers sued Bedford Hospital NHS Trust, claiming clinical negligence and that the hospital’s systems were at fault. The trust denied liability but agreed to compensate Lucie on the basis of 75% of a full valuation of her claim.
Lucie’s compensation package will take the form of a £1.5 million lump sum as well as index-linked and tax-free payments of £126,500-a-year until she is aged 18. Those payments will then increase to £177,500-a-year to cover the costs of her care for the rest of her life.
After Mr Justice Mackay approved the agreement, Clare and David Ross, Lucie’s parents, said outside court: “We are pleased with the settlement but, having said that, we would much rather have not been in this situation at all and have a healthy 14-year-old daughter, living life to the full like any other teenager. What should have been the celebration of the birth of a beautiful daughter turned into a long battle for compensation. Her life was ruined and a family’s life turned upside down. The most important thing now is to give Lucie all the love in the world and the best life she could wish for and to treasure what precious time we have left with Lucie.”