Michelmores secure £3.3 million in damages for claimant 'AB' in another successful Bristol Royal Infirmary cardiac case

Michelmores' clinical negligence team, led by Laurence Vick and assisted by Michael Vian Clark, have settled the claim of 20 year old client 'AB' against United Bristol Healthcare NHS Trust, out of court, for a figure equivalent to £3.3 million lump sum.  See full story below.

AB was born with congenital heart disease in the form of a combination of anatomical defects to his heart which impeded the flow of blood with enough oxygen around his body.

He suffered damage to his brain which has led to severe learning difficulties, elilepsy and a Parkinsonian movement disorder. He also suffered irreparable cardiological damage both to his heart and the vessels connecting it to his lungs. In addition he suffered physical damage to the brachial plexus nerves in his right arm which has made it deformed and useless.

AB required two 'shunt' operations on his heart in the neonatal period to increase blood flow to his lungs from the main circulation to compensate for poor blood flow from his heart. These were palliative procedures designed to keep him alive until further surgery could be performed later in life. This further surgery took the form of three 'open heart' operations.

The Defendant admitted two breaches of duty, first that proper investigations into the Claimant's heart condition should have been performed earlier and secondly that the second shunt operation should have been performed earlier than it was.

AB claimed that he suffered his neurological and cardiological damage as a result of these and other breaches of duty. He alleged that chronic hypoxaemia in the period after the first shunt operation caused his brain damage and that the physical damage to his heart and his right arm was caused by the surgeons during heart surgery.

The case was listed for a two-week trial in the High Court starting on 22 June 2009, but the Defendant agreed to meet AB's lawyers beforehand to see if a settlement compromise could be reached. The settlement was approved on 22 June 2009 in the High Court with an order for costs awarded against the Defendant together with an Anonymity Order preventing the publication of details that might reveal the identity of the Claimant.

Michelmores are delighted to report that these negotiations were successfully concluded and that AB's considerable therapeutic and care needs will be adequately taken care of for the rest of his life.

Laurence Vick of Michelmores was joint lead solicitor to the Bristol Heart Children Action Group, a group of more than 300 families whose children had lost their lives or been seriously damaged following heart surgery in Bristol, at what became the largest public inquiry in the history of the NHS held between October 1998 and July 2001.

The BRI chief executive in the period up to 1998 Dr John Roylance and medical director/surgeon Mr James Wisheart had been struck off by the GMC in that year for serious professional misconduct and Mr Janardan Dhasmana banned from operating on children.

Mr Dhasmana - who took no part in ABs case - went on to work at St George's in London and the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle-upon-Tyne - conducting only adult heart surgery and is now believed to be practising medicine at a hospital in the Himalayas in India. Mr Wisheart, now retired, gave evidence in Abs case defending his former colleague at the High Court.