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Legal case

Substantial claim dismissed after allegations of fundamental dishonesty

The claimant’s attempt to fabricate some heads of claim, and manifestly exaggerate other heads of claim, have led to him losing damages

In the case of AS v A NHS Trust (unreported) the claimant claimed substantial damages for personal injury, loss of earnings (past and future), personal care, domestic assistance and gardening assistance arising from a patient assault that occurred during the course of his employment with the defendant. Breach of duty was admitted early on in the claim. Weightmans were instructed by NHS Resolution to handle the litigation. During the course of litigation, the claimant relied on the expert medical evidence from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and consultant psychiatrist and alleged that more than four years after the incident, he was still suffering from significant low back symptoms. He also alleged that he left the employment of the defendant as a direct result of the assault. A schedule of loss totalling over £190,000 was served. Over half of the damages sought consisted of past and future loss of earnings and a future pension loss. The claimant had also received an interim payment on account of damages.

Forensic analysis of medical records, that were obtained as part of the quantum investigations, revealed that the claimant had achieved a very good recovery from his physical injuries within a few months of the incident occurring, contrary to his assertions to the experts. Witness evidence and employment records obtained also confirmed that the claimant had ended his employment with the defendant for personal reasons entirely unrelated to the incident, again contrary to the assertions being made. The defendant also obtained its own expert evidence which cast further doubt on the injuries sustained.

Investigations carried out validated the concerns raised regarding the extent of the claimant’s injuries and special damages sought. Accordingly, in employing Weightmans’ counter fraud strategies our intelligence team were instructed to carry out intelligence investigations on the claimant which detected further evidence that assisted in disputing other aspects of the claimant’s claim, for example, the care and services claim for gardening assistance.

Pursuant to Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, the defendant alleged that the claimant was fundamentally dishonest in relation to the severity and duration of his symptoms, and also in relation to the head of special damages sought. 

Shortly before trial the claimant attempted to introduce further expert evidence in the form of pain management expert evidence. In light of the evidence that had been obtained, the application was robustly defended and rejected by the court.

On the day of trial, the claimant agreed to an order acknowledging the allegation of fundamental dishonesty, for the court to dismiss his claim, and for him to repay the interim payment and defendant’s legal costs. 

The claimant’s attempt to fabricate some heads of claim, and manifestly exaggerate other heads of claim, has caused him to effectively withdraw his claim, losing any damages that he might have reasonably been entitled to receive in light of the admission made.

The NHS is a fair employer which will, if damages are claimed legitimately, seek to settle claims. However, as an organisation that is answerable to the public in relation to how taxpayers’ money is spent, this case demonstrates that it will robustly defend claims from dishonest claimants, and seek recovery of costs. Weightmans’ strong background in healthcare law coupled with fraud expertise means we robustly but sensitively handle these cases, understanding the approach of our healthcare clients and working closely with them to ensure public funds are not inappropriately diverted to fraudulent claimants.

Weightmans’ counter fraud group are market leaders who work in partnership with our clients to identify claimant behaviours and devise litigation strategies to tackle fraudulent behaviours in the courts. Our approach is simple but effective, using proven techniques and technologies to detect fraud, challenge through delivery and then deter those who perpetrate it, whether they be individuals, fraud rings, solicitors or companies.

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