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Lionel Stride (instructed by Ben Gent of Slater & Gordon), represented a claimant who suffered severe injuries as a result of negligent nursing care. She had been hospitalised after suffering with mono-phasic encephalitis that caused paranoia, hallucinations, and extreme anxiety whilst in hospital. Despite such symptoms, she had been placed in a room on her own with access to an unbarred window, two storeys up; in a delirious state, she attempted to leave through the window, falling to the ground and sustaining life-changing upper limb injuries.
Despite her determination and self-reliance, the Claimant’s injuries left her unable to pursue her high-flying career in London and in need of safer accommodation without stairs, as well as significant future care and equipment needs. The Defendant initially disputed liability and refused to enter settlement negotiations. The claim was therefore issued and all evidence exchanged before the parties eventually attended a mediation in May 2023. However, this proved unsuccessful: the parties remained around £2.75 million apart after final offers; aside from causation, the main disputed issues centred on the income projections and residual earning capacity of the Claimant, as well as her care, accommodation and/or housing adaptation and equipment needs.
Following the mediation, detailed agendas were prepared and joint meetings took place between the experts in each discipline. Although the Defendant made further offers, they were all well below the valuations of the Claimant’s legal team. With the trial in sight, though, the Defendant ultimately accepted a time-limited Calderbank Offer of £3.15 million. The settlement was nearly £2 million above the final offer made by the Defendant at the unsuccessful mediation.
The case demonstrates the need for parties to be prepared to walk away from, and for their legal team to deliver clear and objective advice at, any form of alternative dispute resolution. This is particularly so where a party is seeking a heavy ‘settlement discount or premium’ that does not appear to reflect the weight of the evidence. It also demonstrates the benefit of being trial ready when trying to negotiate a fair compromise of a claim. In this instance, by the Claimant having the courage to walk away, and clearly being prepared for trial on all disputed issues, the Defendant ultimately had no choice but to fight or accept a fair valuation of the claim in settlement.