Erb's Palsy Case Study

Our client v NHS Foundation Trust hospital

Year of incident: 1997

Date of Settlement: 2018

Acting: John Baddeley, Director at Wake Smith Solicitors


The client suffered foetal birth trauma in 1997 after being delivered by a difficult ventouse delivery in hospital resulting in Erb’s Palsy in the right arm.

A preliminary report highlighted major concerns with the management of the delivery of the case:

  • There was no need to proceed to ventouse delivery on the grounds of foetal distress alone in presence of a normal CTG trace
  • The choice of ventouse delivery was inappropriate and a caesarean section should have been considered first
  • The doctor ignored the warning signs of outlet obstruction resulting in the ventouse cap coming off with vigorous contraction
  • Having delivered the head, no manoeuvres were considered to avoid impaction of the foetal shoulders.
  • It was therefore alleged that the management of the second stage of labour could not be supported and fell below a reasonable standard of care.


As a result, the client suffered the following injuries/consequences:

  • A brachial plexus injury involving nerve roots C5, 6 and 7
  • The physical disability had a significant psychological impact including behavioural problems
  • Permanent limited elevation of right shoulder and slight restriction in forearm rotation
  • Restricted lifestyle and job/occupation opportunities due to injury
  • Expert Evidence:

    We instructed experts to prepare reports for the client in the disciplines of:

    • Obstetrics
    • Orthopaedics
    • Care
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Educational Psychology
    • Neuropsychology
    • Physiotherapy
    • Psychiatry
    • Independent Financial Advice

    Admission of liability:

    The Trust admitted a breach of duty in respect of the management of the claimant’s birth and that such management had caused the injury resulting in Erb’s Palsy.

    The Proceedings:

    The matter was settled by mediation without pre-court proceedings


    The claim settled for a value of £750,000.

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