The advantages of mediation in resolving family disputes
Kate Rohde and Sharon Burkill achieved a multi-million pound out of court settlement for a girl who suffered brain damage following inappropriate care during her birth.
When Lorna was being born, the labour lasted a long time and she was delivered using forceps with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Distressingly, she also failed to breathe properly and needed resuscitation. It took an hour for her to begin breathing on her own. Lorna was starved of oxygen (hypoxia), which damaged her brain. She was eventually diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy.
She is now in her thirties, but Lorna has the abilities of a five year old. She can speak, but is difficult to understand. She needs assistance with everything she does including eating, washing, getting around and dressing.
Lorna was fifteen when her family decided bring a claim against the hospital. Fortunately, there is no time limit for bringing cases where a ‘claimant’ cannot manage their own affairs. The claim was initially hampered by the fact that the relevant medical records had been destroyed meaning the evidence was compromised.
Kate and Sharon were able to establish that, if the family’s recollections about their daughter’s birth were true, her brain damage would have been avoided by an earlier delivery. They also located a witness to help reconstruct the events of Lorna’s birth and, through perseverance, managed to force the hospital to release witness statements it had claimed didn’t exist.
Lorna received part of the settlement as a lump sum and part as annual payments that are guaranteed for the rest of her life. The money is kept secure in the Court of Protection and will be used to cover the costs of care, therapy and equipment. It will also be used to buy and adapt a house to meet Lorna's needs.
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