Robshaw v United Lincolnshire Hospitals

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Robshaw v United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust [2015] EWHC 923

QUANTIFICATION OF DAMAGES

Facts

The claimant suffered from severe cerebral palsy due to mismanagement of his birth. He required full time care for the remainder of his life. He was able to self feed to a very limited extent but was largely dependent on others to feed him. He was also unable to remain in his home without significant changes to the property to accommodate his extensive needs. The defendant accepted liability in negligence but disputed the quantum of damages.

Issue

The approach of the court to the quantification of damages in such a case as in issue. In particular, there was an issue as to whether the claimant should be classified as ‘self fed’ or ‘fed by others' for the purpose of estimating his life expectancy. A further issue was whether the damages for accommodation should reflect the cost of demolishing and entirely rebuilding the claimant’s property, or merely of adapting it.

Held

In terms of general approach, Foskett J stated that:

“…it all comes down eventually to the court’s evaluation of what is reasonable in all the circumstances” (para 42).

With regard to the life expectancy issue, the judge based his assessment on a figure in between the starting points for claimants who were ‘self feeding’ and those ‘fed by others’, in order to accurately reflect the complexity if his position.

With regard to the accommodation issue, the judge determined that adapting rather than rebuilding the property did not constitute reasonable mitigation, and therefore the defendant was liable for the full cost of demolishing and rebuilding the claimant’s home. The assessment of the claimant's needs was generous, with the judge even allowing his claim for the construction of a swimming pool.

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