Judge Awards Millions in Birth Injury Lawsuit

June 18, 2014

A High Court judge in London awarded a boy and his family $12 million this month after evidence proved the boy’s physicians and medical staff failed to respond appropriately when he was born with an abnormal heartbeat.

According to court documents, 7-year-old Toby Hart, of North Yorkshire, will require round-the-clock medical care for the rest of his life. His medical conditions stem from birth injuries in 2006, after physicians failed to detect, diagnose, and treat his abnormal heartbeat. Although the boy’s heartbeat began to slow shortly after birth, both medical staff and the attending physicians did nothing to stop the distress. Consequently, Toby was deprived of oxygen, leading to a host of medical problems.

“During his birth at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton in October 2006, Toby’s heart rate slowed drastically but medical staff failed to spot he was in distress and he was born 25 minutes later than he should have been, starving his brain of oxygen and leaving him permanently brain damaged,” the family’s attorney stated. 

Toby now suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, severe vision problems, brain damage, and learning disabilities. Lifelong care for these disorders and disabilities can reach in the millions, and according to Toby’s mother, Michelle Hart, the compensation will help her care for her son’s medical needs, which would have otherwise been impossible.

“Although nothing can turn back the clock and undo the mistakes made during Toby’s birth, it is a massive relief to know that his care and rehabilitation needs for the rest of his life will be taken care of by the final settlement,” Michelle Hart said. 

Getting compensation for Toby was not an easy process. However, Michelle Hart, along with her husband, Matthew Hart, remain determined throughout several years of administration hassles. In fact, it took a few years just to be able to get Toby the specialized equipment needed to help him with his daily living needs.

“We constantly had to battle to get support, equipment and therapies that Toby needed and it just highlights how important the settlement is in ensuring that his quality of life is as comfortable as possible for the rest of his life,” Michelle Hart said. 

The compensation for the Hart family will come from the South Tees Hospital’s NHS Foundation Trust. Along with a $2 million up-front lump sum, the family receive an annual payment of $500,00 until the total amount of of damages are paid. The settlement arrangements were created by the family’s attorney and Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital, where Toby was born. 

A spokesperson for the NHS Foundation offered sympathy and words of encouragement shortly after the settlement.

“We are sorry that the care afforded to Mrs Hart and to Toby fell below an acceptable standard and that Toby suffered very substantial injuries as a result. The trust acknowledges that no amount of money can compensate adequately for the damage suffered but it is hoped at least that the agreed sum will give some financial security and provide for Toby’s needs now and in the future,” the spokesperson said.