DENZIL SHAWE-LINCOLN v ARUL CHEZHAYAN NEELAKANDAN (2012)
 EWHC 1150 (QB)
QBD (Lloyd Jones J) 03/05/2012
David Pittaway QC has successfully defended a claim at trial brought as a result of a failure by an out-of-hours GP to refer a 75 year old claimant to hospital following a telephone call from his wife in the early hours of a Sunday morning in November 2005 that he was “… in a lot of pain, his legs have now gone numb, cannot be moved”. The claimant suffered from ankolysing spondylitis and had undergone decompression surgery in 2002 from which he had made a protracted and incomplete recovery. The claimant had injured his back when he had been assaulted nine days before by his mentally handicapped lodger. He was admitted to hospital 36 hours later where his spinal condition deteriorated over night causing paraplegia.
The case is an interesting example of where a defendant has successfully argued the issue of causation notwithstanding that breach of duty has been admitted. The key issue was whether the outcome of the claimant’s condition would have been materially different if he had been admitted to the hospital following his wife’s telephone call and not 36 hours later. There were also consequential issues as to what would have occurred had he been admitted at that time. Lloyd Jones J held in the QBD that the claimant had failed to prove that there had been any significant deterioration in the claimant’s neurological condition between the telephone call made to the out of hours service and his eventual admission to hospital. The claim was dismissed.
David was instructed by Justin Whitmore, DAC Beachcroft, on behalf of the MDU. The GP’s expert witnesses were Professor Robert Macfarlane, consultant neurosurgeon, and Mr Anthony O’Dowd, consultant spinal surgeon (retired). The claimant’s expert witnesses were Mr Nicholas Todd, consultant neurosurgeon, and Mr James Wilson-Macdonald, consultant spinal surgeon.
The full text of the judgment is on Lawtel.
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