Court Awards Compensation for Birth Injury

Posted on: October 20th, 2015 by Editor


A Court of Sessions judge in Edinburgh has awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation to a child who was born with a brachial plexus injury because of midwife negligence.

The claim was made by an anonymous woman on behalf of her child, who is too young to represent themselves in legal matters. The child – known as “Baby C” – was born with a permanent brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder because of excessive force used during his mother’s labour.

The boy was born at the Law Hospital Maternity Unit in July 1999. Initially, it was planned that Lynn Kerr – a student midwife – would perform the delivery, but as it progressed Baby C began to emerge with the umbilical cord around his throat. From that point, Sister Rosemary Murphy – a more experienced midwife – took over.

The court heard from the mother’s legal team of how Sister Murphy didn’t recognise the situation as one of potential emergency and used excessive force (likened to a “tug of war” in court) to deliver the baby boy. The lawyers commented that the actions by the midwife were “pretty violent” and alleged that she neglected protocols that were established in 1999 for such a situation.

Both the Lanarkshire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Sister murphy denied negligence and disputed the mother’s claim for midwife negligence. However, the judge overseeing proceedings in the Court of Sessions – Judge Lady Rae – found in the mother’s favour, ruling that the evidence was sufficient to show that Sister Murphy’s actions were wrong.

In her written judgement, Lady Rae noted that “I am satisfied that in course of his birth, C suffered a severe brachial plexus injury to his right side as a result of the negligence of the defenders’ employee Sister Rosemary Murphy and for whom the defenders are responsible. Sister Murphy failed to recognise an obstetric emergency after the student midwife had been unable to deliver the body of C after delivery of his head. As a result of these failures C was born with a severe brachial plexus injury to his right shoulder.”

Before awarding Baby C £725,000 in compensation, Lady Rae commented that Sister Murphy should have called for help “at the time and in the circumstances”.

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