Court Approves Compensation for Hospital Mistakes

A court in Leeds has approved a settlement of compensation for hospital mistakes made during the birth of a young girl who now suffers from athetoid cerebral palsy.

Judge Mark Gosnell at the High Court in Leeds was told of the circumstances preceding the birth of Ruby Curtis from Garforth in West Yorkshire; who was born at St James Hospital in Leeds on 28th August 2005, having suffered from a lack of oxygen in the womb due to the failure of hospital staff to identify that her mother´s uterus had ruptured.

The court heard that Ruby´s mother – Lisa – had been given medication to aid her contractions, but staff were slow to notice Lisa´s injury and subsequently Ruby´s delivery was avoidably delayed. Ruby was born with athetoid cerebral palsy – a form of cerebral palsy which affects her head and body, all four of her limbs, and is responsible for involuntary muscular movements.

Although Ruby has learned to use her eyes to communicate, she needs assistance in all aspects of her daily life, including feeding, personal care and education. Ruby´s mother gave up working after her birth to become her full-time carer and now Ruby attends the specialist Percy Hedley School for children with cerebral palsy in Killingworth.

Ruby´s mother made a claim for compensation for the hospital mistakes after seeking legal advice and, after years of pursuing her claim, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust eventually admitted their “majority” liability for Ruby´s birth injuries and a compensation settlement was negotiated that would see Ruby receive a lump sum payment of £2.95 million in compensation for hospital mistakes with payments made annually to provide for her care thereafter.

At the High Court in Leeds, Judge Mark Gosnell was told that a settlement of compensation for athetoid cerebral palsy had been agreed, which will see Ruby receive £2.95 million as a lump sum payment to pay for her care, education costs and special accommodation near her school, with ongoing annual tax-free payments to provide the care Ruby needs when she reaches adulthood.

Approving the settlement, Judge Mark Gosnell noted that the funds would be managed by the Court of Protection and said to Ruby´s parents that the compensation for hospital mistakes should secure “a better family life for both you and Ruby”. He added that he hoped an apology read out in court on behalf of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust would give them some sense of closure.