Vanessa has specialised in clinical negligence for over 20 years and is a nominated partner for NHS Resolution, sharing responsibility for supervising the London team.
Vanessa handles an extensive and diverse caseload of maximum severity claims, including neurological injuries sustained at birth and neonatally, traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries in adults and children. She has handled some of the most complicated and sensitive clinical negligence claims and notable recent cases include:
- A 19 year old woman died of undiagnosed bacterial endocarditis following a medical termination. A claim was pursued on behalf of her estate and her 2 year old child. Vanessa obtained supportive expert evidence and liability was firmly denied. The claimant made numerous part 36 offers, all which were rejected. The claimant ultimately recognised that the defendant was not willing to concede and Vanessa secured a significant contribution towards defence costs.
- The infant claimant suffered a cardio respiratory arrest when she attended hospital for an investigation following an undiagnosed illness. She had suffered from cerebral palsy since birth (not the result of any negligence) and the cause of the arrest was unknown. The claimant’s previous disability made the quantum case particularly challenging. Expert causation evidence was marshalled and the foremost experts nationally were instructed. Liability was thereafter admitted and a forensic approach taken to quantification, ensuring the experts focused appropriately on the extent to which the claimant had a requirement for care by virtue of her pre-existing and unrelated disability. Vanessa achieved a heavily discounted settlement at a round table meeting, on the basis of a lump sum and index linked periodical payments.
- The claimant was born with an arterio-venous malformation, as a result of which she suffered regular haemorrhages from her nose and mouth. During routine surgery to embolise bleeding vessels, surgical glue was inadvertently injected into the internal carotid artery instead of contrast medium and entered the claimant’s brain causing catastrophic injuries. There were highly complex issues in relation to causation and life expectancy. The case was exceptionally complex and sensitive and we obtained bespoke evidence on life expectancy which was critical to the settlement of the claim at a level very significantly lower than the sums claimed. Vanessa received personal thanks from the claimant’s family for the way the case had been handled.
- Vanessa recently concluded a multi-party claim by a tetraplegic individual whose home ventilator was inadvertently switched off, thereby causing further catastrophic neurological damage. Vanessa coordinated apportionment discussions between the various co-defendants and was instrumental in the negotiation of a novel settlement mechanism.
- The claimant suffered from cerebral palsy as a result of untreated septicaemia in the neonatal period. Liability was admitted at an early stage. Vanessa worked collaboratively with the claimant’s solicitors to investigate quantum. The claim was compromised at a RTM but a complicating factor centred around the claimant’s risk of developing epilepsy. Settlement was agreed on the basis of provisional damages with a variable periodical payment order.
Vanessa’s settlements in the last 12 months include numerous very high value cerebral palsy claims. By contrast, Vanessa has recently advised on an infant death claim of moderate value but ultimate complexity and sensitivity. The case was successfully resolved by way of mediation.
Vanessa has also led a number of national group actions. She represented NHS Resolution at the roundtable settlement meetings in relation to all claims arising out of the events at Mid Staffs. Vanessa is passionate about the NHS and regularly lectures to clinicians on issues such as consent, record-keeping, clinical governance and risk management. She has extensive experience of coronial law, representing clinicians at inquests, both with and without a jury.