Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Medical Negligence at Birth

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation for medical negligence at birth after a hearing at Leeds High Court.

Judge Mark Gosnell heard how Ruby Curtis from Garforth in West Yorkshire (who is now eight years of age) was born at St James Hospital in Leeds in August 2005 after having been deprived of oxygen prior to her delivery when nursing staff at the hospital failed to notice that her mother´s uterus had ruptured.

Ruby´s delivery was subsequently delayed for longer than it should have been – during which time she suffered brain damage due to the lack of oxygen – and, as a consequence of the delay, Ruby was born suffering from athetoid cerebral palsy – a type of cerebral palsy which affects the muscle movements in Ruby´s head, body, and limbs, and has left her unable to speak coherently.

Ruby has learned to communicate using her eyes, and now attends the specialist Percy Hedley School in Killingworth; however, for the past eight years Ruby´s mother has devoted her life to raising her daughter who requires assistance in every task of everyday life; including eating, drinking, personal care and – previously – education.

After seeking legal advice, Ruby´s parents – Steve and Lisa Curtis – made a claim for compensation for medical negligence at birth on Ruby´s behalf against the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. The NHS Trust initially denied their liability for Ruby´s condition but, after a long legal battle, conceded that they had “majority responsibility” for Ruby´s birth injuries.

A settlement of compensation for medical negligence at birth was negotiated between solicitors representing the Curtis family and the NHS Trust, and a lump sum of £2.95 million will now be paid into the Court of Protection on Ruby´s behalf, with further payments of compensation being paid into Ruby´s fund each year.

At the High Court in Leeds, Judge Mark Gosnell approved the settlement after an apology from the NHS Trust was read to the family. Judge Gosnell said that he hoped the apology gave the family a “sense of closure” and that the compensation settlement would provide “a better family life for both you and Ruby”.