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Our client, Barrie Martin, suffered a road traffic accident when he was riding his bicycle to his then place of work at global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.
Barrie was employed as a medicinal chemist, a role which involved a mixture of laboratory and office duties. Although AstraZeneca had announced their intention to close the offices where Barrie was based, he had been offered relocation to either Cheshire or Sweden.
Barrie had expressed a preference for Sweden, not least because it was a like-for-like position. He and his wife attended events covering living and working in Scandinavia and were due to travel to Sweden to explore living and schooling in the area.
Those plans were shattered when a Vauxhall Astra turned right across Barrie’s path and drove into his bicycle on the day of his accident.
He suffered a fractured neck and humerus, a posterior fracture dislocation of the right shoulder which required the insertion of a metal plate and considerable psychological injuries. Shoosmiths took on his case funded by a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) – perhaps better known as ‘no-win-no-fee’.
Immediately following his accident, Barrie underwent surgery at the Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham. He returned to work on a part-time basis before returning to full-time work six months after the accident despite continuing to experience pain and discomfort in his right shoulder. He underwent further revision surgery three years after the accident.
Chris McKinney, a partner specialising in personal injury and cycle accident claims who handled Barrie’s case said:
‘We arranged an immediate assessment to cover Barrie’s urgent medical and rehabilitation needs and obtained medical expert evidence from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and a consultant psychologist. The orthopaedic surgeon’s report suggested that Barrie’s painful symptoms were related to the fracture repair plate inserted in his shoulder, but that these symptoms should resolve if the plate was removed.’
Unfortunately, it proved impossible to surgically remove the plate and all of the screws without causing considerable soft-tissue damage, so it was left in situ.
Our expert orthopaedic surgeon therefore concluded that Barrie would continue to suffer from discomfort and pain together with restriction of movement and would never make a full recovery from the injury. He was also at increased risk of developing premature osteoarthritis in the shoulder.
The defendant’s own expert evidence substantially agreed with those findings, so there was no need for experts to confer and the orthopaedic evidence was agreed as was the psychological evidence.
Barrie was unfit to undertake laboratory work and indeed remains unfit to do so to this day. He therefore took redundancy from AstraZeneca but quickly found alternative work with a firm called C4X Discovery, such was the demand for his skills.
His award was likely to be substantial since damages would have to take account of the fact that he had lost the opportunity to relocate to Sweden as well as a one off loyalty bonus for the transfer. In addition, he had lost the option of a tax free annual bonus, pay increases with AstraZeneca and his pension as a member of the AstraZeneca pension scheme.
However, Chris McKinney comments:
‘The claim for loss of earnings was by no means straightforward in that there was no actual loss to the extent that Barrie was employed throughout. On transfer to C4X Discovery he had earned similar amounts to those he had earned with AstraZeneca.
During the course of the case the defendant had made various offers to settle, ranging from £9,000 to £75,000. We advised Barrie to reject these offers since they did not, in our view, take account of what were substantial special damages such as loss of potential future earnings.
The case was prepared for a trial but, before that took place, a settlement meeting was arranged. That meeting between the parties commenced shortly after 11.00 am and a substantial settlement sum in excess of those initial offers was finally agreed at 5.15 pm.
Barrie Martin comments:
‘The accident had a devastating impact. Our lives and future plans were turned upside down. Shoosmiths and Chris in particular were a tremendous support throughout and I’m extremely happy with the settlement they achieved.’