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Case study for catastrophic injuries claim – Mr CG v MOD

The Circumstances

CG was a soldier who had suffered catastrophic injuries while on active service with the Army while in Cyprus. He suffered T4 paraplegia as a result of the incident. Liability was not in dispute.

CG had, very understandably, chosen to live life in his own way, within his very close, loving and supportive family. This did, however, present certain challenges for George Ide’s legal team, the experts and the case manager. CG was determined to live his life in a very positive way, to focus upon and maximise his independence, and it was much to his credit that he was living his life first and foremost; and thinking about the consequences for his legal case as very much a secondary aspect. There was, at times, a certain perceived (certainly by the defence) reluctance on CG’s behalf to fully engage with care and support. This became, on occasion, particularly challenging for the case manager.

George Ide’s personal injury solicitors were able to secure very substantial interim payments (by application and also by agreement) as the case proceeded to provide for adapted accommodation, case management, a support worker, a therapist, aids, equipment and transport etc, whilst also supporting CG in his return to college and university. The team worked with Bill Braithwaite QC to secure what leading Counsel remarked was a very substantial award for such a level of spinal lesion.

The team worked hard to obtain and utilise witness evidence from former and serving soldiers (NCOs and officers) to maximise the claim for loss of Army career. Some of these serving soldiers were understandably concerned about giving evidence against the Ministry of Defence, and these challenges had to be dealt with robustly at times, and sensitively and gently at other times.

We were able to maximise the case management and care claim in the face of strong opposition/arguments from the MOD which pointed to CG’s behaviour which was being interpreted by the defence as undermining CG’s own case for care. They doubted that he would actually accept the care as claimed.

Vitally, George Ide partner and personal injury solicitor Paul Fretwell was able to maintain good professional relations and dialogue with the defence solicitor, to keep the lines of communication and negotiation open, following a failed joint settlement meeting and the breakdown of negotiations between the respective parties’ QCs. The case was ultimately settled between Paul Fretwell and his opposite number at Treasury Solicitors.

Case Details

In the later stages of the case we worked closely with, and introduced CG to, our trust and investment specialists (in-house team) who went to meet CG and his family on a number of occasions, so they could carefully guide him through the trust and investments route and eventually to set up a personal injury disability trust with a £1.5million plus investment fund. CG was assisted in relation to apportioning his settlement fund, including the purchase of new accommodation (to be adapted). We were able to secure the peace of mind of both CG and his parents, who were understandably worried about his future/security/ vulnerability, and we were able to set their minds greatly at ease.

The case settled for £3.64 million on 2nd November 2010, a personal injury disability trust/investment has been set up.

The Team

Paul Fretwell (working with Tony Goff in the early stages), Bill Braithwaite QC, Amanda Yip as Junior Counsel, with lead experts Brian Gardner (spinal), and Maggie Sargent (care), “hands on” case manager Jenny Whittall, plus our in-house trusts and investment team of Ian Mellor and John Atkinson. Also, external professional IFA expert Richard Cropper prepared a formal report / advice in relation to the pros and cons of periodical payments.

The personal injury team at George Ide regards this as a classic case of good teamwork, with the combined catastrophic injury expertise of Tony Goff and Paul Fretwell, an excellent working relationship with both leading and junior counsel, team building skills, focusing on CG’s wishes and needs and keeping his quality of life issues at the absolute forefront. It showed the benefit of having our own trusts and benefits team. We were able to work effectively with the defendant’s solicitor, Emma Hines at Treasury Solicitor, based upon mutual respect, being firm when we needed to be, but being open, sensible and maintaining and good constructive dialogue even when negotiations had broken down between the QCs.

Testimonial

On conclusion of the case CG sent a letter of thanks to Paul Fretwell which said:

“I would like to thank you for the effort, determination, understanding and, most of all, the respect and belief that you gave to me and my family. You gave us hope when we were feeling at our lowest and made things that were sometimes hard to see, a lot more clear. We will forever be grateful. I know it’s your job but you gave so much more.”