A client said something to me recently that jarred with me. It was in the context of explaining to me that instructing Cantillons Solicitors was a last resort and that she wasn’t the “type of person” to sue. It seems that in her workplace (she works in a hospital), the general consensus is that there is only “one type of person” who sues.
I explained to the client that this was certainly not our experience. Here, at Cantillons Solicitors, we have been looking after clients for over forty years. Clients come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of problems and needs. There is no one “type”.
I have little doubt that the powerful insurance lobby has gone someway to perpetuating this myth that there is a “type” of person who sues. We are all familiar with the advertisement about “John” who exaggerates his claim and by doing so “puts his hand in your pocket”. Certainly, none of us tax payers want to be ripped off. However, in my twenty years litigating, I haven’t acted for anyone wanting to maintain an exaggerated claim; nor ( it goes without saying) would I.
The following is a snapshot of some of the clients for whom I have settled cases in the recent past.
1. An elderly gentleman who was exposed to, and contracted Hepatitis B, in a HSE run hospital. Unbelievably, this hospital engaged in a practice of using reusable needle holding devices in the phlebotomy procedure up to 99 times! This case was vigorously defended by the State over a period of some four years and some six weeks before the trial of the action the solicitors for the State withdrew liability, without any explanation whatsoever. Neither was there an apology to this gentlemen who had been through hell and back. One of the principal ways in which Hepatitis B can be contracted is through sexual intercourse with an infected person. Upon diagnosis, he was left under a cloud. The negligence of the HSE, and the actions thereafter of their solicitors had a significant adverse effect on our client and his family. All of that could have been avoided by a proper course of action being adopted by the HSE and/or their solicitors. Instead they engaged in a form of legal brinkmanship.
This gentleman and his wife were honest, decent, hardworking people. Neither had ever stepped inside the door of a solicitor’s office, never mind a courtroom, before instructing Cantillons Solicitors.
2. A couple whose much longed for first baby died at twenty-three hours of age due to the gross negligence (this was finally accepted by the HSE solicitors) of a Midwife, again employed in a HSE run hospital who not only failed to recognise clear signs that the baby was in distress in a long and protracted labour; rather she berated my client for not “pushing properly”.
Again, this couple had no wish to litigate. However they were left with no option as they were given no explanation whatsoever as to why their perfect baby was born not breathing, and died, as I say, at twenty-three hours of age. They were fobbed off when they tried to ask questions. Through the litigation process, they obtained expert reports (at huge cost to them at the time) confirming what they had suspected, namely that there was negligence in the care and treatment afforded to our client during the labour and delivery of her baby.
3. The widow of a fifty-nine year old non-national who suffered a stroke and was left lying on a trolley in another HSE run hospital for forty-eight hours without receiving appropriate treatment or scanning and who went on to suffer a further catastrophic stroke which left him paralysed and unable to speak. He sadly died some two years later.
Again, the widow had no wish to litigate but was left with little option. She was entirely financially dependent upon her husband who had come to Ireland to work as there was an economic recession in his home country (the Celtic tiger was roaring here at the time) and he used to send money back to his wife to support her. We sought, and secured, financial compensation for this widow.
4. A young woman, who as a young girl (aged thirteen) suffered a relatively trivial injury to her right hip in school. It was left untreated for years. Advice by a Radiologist to her General Practitioner was ignored. If it was heeded, she would have had her right hip successfully treated. Instead, she went for years without treatment, with a consequent devastating effect on her physical wellbeing and life. When she discovered the true position years later (she came across her medical records in the most bizarre of circumstances), she launched legal proceedings and was misled and every legal obstacle was placed in her way. Legal threats were made against her. For example she was threatened that unless she withdrew her case, the solicitors for the General Practitioner would apply to have it dismissed because of delay and have the costs awarded against her. At the time, our client was going through a lot of personal difficulties and was in very difficult financial circumstances. She had ongoing requirements for medical care which she could not afford. The General Practitioner Defendants knew this. She went on to have four children, who she loves dearly but unfortunately, they suffer from Autism. She has battled valiantly to give them the care that they require notwithstanding her disability.
Some nine days pre-trial, the General Practitioners admitted liability. Nothing new came to light nine days before the trial that was not always known to these General Practitioners. Yet, they put the woman to the considerable grief and upset of having to prove her case and face a lengthy Court action.
This lady is an inspirational lady. In the numerous meetings that I had with her, I felt humbled by what she had had to cope with but yet she always managed to keep the bright side out.
Indeed, I am in awe of all of the above clients. What they have in common is,
All were victims of medical negligence. Of course, the fact that they were all clients of mine is not coincidental as medical negligence is the area in which I practice.
None took the decision to instruct Cantillons Solicitors lightly. It was a last resort for all of them frankly.
All were completely in fear of the risks involved in prosecuting their cases, specifically the cost implications for them if they lost.
All of them however are very different people with very different (and very sad) stories. You could say that is “type of person” who sues.
Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or [email protected] if you would like more information.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.