Student secures ‘seven figure’ settlement after op went wrong

Laura May

Laura May

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A teenager left paralysed for life after spinal surgery at a Lancashire hospital has won a seven figure sum in compensation.

Laura May, 17, of Chorley, has been awarded the unprecedented multi-million pound compensation following the operation at Royal Preston Hospital which was carried out in 2005 to correct a curvature of the spine which left her paralysed from the chest down.

The High Court in London has approved the financial settlement which will involve a lump sum and periodical payments to pay for care during Laura’s life.

The damages are broken down to compensate for medical expenses for Laura and her family, accommodation and equipment and future loss of earnings as a result of her injuries.

Medical negligence specialist Diane Rostron, of Linder Myers, in Lytham, proved the injuries suffered were the result of negligence by orthopaedic surgeon, Roger Battersby Smith.

In 2009 the High Court of Justice in London ruled Mr Battersby Smith had failed to use an imaging technique before operating and negligently misplaced a screw during Laura’s operation.

Diane, who is regional managing partner for north west law firm Linder Myers, said, “Today represents the end of Laura’s prolonged and significant battle for justice.

“The settlement will provide Laura with security for her future and give her family the support they need.”

Laura’s parents Christine and Bill became concerned about Laura when she was 11 and her mum suddenly noticed an abnormality on her spine during a shopping trip.

She was referred to Mr Battersby Smith, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Royal Preston Hospital and in February 2005, he undertook an operation to correct the curvature and to prevent further deterioration.

Laura went into the operation with full use of her limbs, but when it was over, she was paraplegic and had lost movement in her body and limbs.

During the High Court hearing, the court was told that at the time of the surgery, unlike other centres, the Royal Preston Hospital did not offer spinal cord monitoring.

At the time, Laura’s parents said: “There is nothing we can do to repair our daughter’s body, but the damages will ensure Laura receives the best care she can.”

Ms Rostran added that Laura May is an A-level student who is determined to live her life to the full and is looking forward to going to university next year.

Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The matter of the trust’s liability to compensate Laura May for her personal injury was resolved in November 2009.

“Since then the parties’ solicitors have worked together and we are pleased that the agreed compensation package has been approved by the court.

“The trust sincerely regrets the injuries suffered by Laura May. We would like to express our best wishes to Laura and her family for the future.”