The clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches LLP has recently settled a long-running claim for a client who acquired Legionnaire’s Disease in Guy’s Hospital and subsequently suffered a stroke.
Our client had been admitted to Guy’s Hospital with complications following treatment for throat cancer. During his stay there he contracted Legionnaire’s Disease due to contamination on one of the wash basins. Three weeks later, while recovering from the effects of the infection, he suffered a stroke leaving him with severely disabling injuries. Our client was forced to sell his home and move to much smaller, ground-floor accommodation where he will require a significant amount of daily care for life.
The hospital trust admitted early on in the claim that our client had been exposed to Legionnaire’s Disease as a result of its negligence but it adamantly denied that this was in any way related to the stroke our client had suffered as we were alleging. We obtained supportive expert evidence that the infection acquired was a material factor in him suffering the stroke but this was far from straightforward.
Our experts were able to support a link between the infection from Legionnaire’s Disease and the stroke but were unable to say that the Legionnaire’s had actually caused the stroke. This was because our client was also suffering from another infection, caused by the non-negligent acquisition of pseudomonas, at exactly the same time and this, on its own, could have caused the stroke. To complicate matters further, the trust’s argument was that the stroke was not related to the two infections but was due to our client’s other underlying risk factors. What was not, however, in dispute was the extent of our client’s disability.
Despite maintaining a blanket denial that the infection caused by the Legionnaire’s Disease was in any way causative of the stroke, we managed to obtain a substantial settlement for our client, only three weeks before the case was due to go to trial.
Elise Bevan, associate in the clinical negligence team who ran the case said: “While the hospital trust was quick to admit that its failures resulted in our client contracting Legionnaire’s Disease, the issue of whether this was the cause or a contributing factor to the stroke was a very complicated issue – with differing views between the experts. Because of the complexity of the case and the value, given our client’s serious disability, the case ran all the way through a court timetable until shortly before trial when the defendants responded to negotiations and agreed a substantial settlement. This sum will enable our client to purchase a more suitable home and receive the care that he needs and so this settlement will make a huge difference to him.”