Family set for High Court battle

A SUFFOLK teenager with a serious disability could set legal history at the High Court in London on Monday.Philip Revett, now 19, from Martlesham, was born with Down's syndrome in December 1985.

A SUFFOLK teenager with a serious disability could set legal history at the High Court in London on Monday.

Philip Revett, now 19, from Martlesham, was born with Down's syndrome in December 1985. He developed a heart condition and in February 1987 he was admitted to Guy's hospital in London, which was the centre of excellence for the type of surgery he required.

During surgery to insert a catheter into his heart, doctors failed to monitor his temperature and he overheated, leading to further severe neurological damage. The hospital has since admitted liability.

Philip is now confined to a wheelchair and needs constant specialist care and treatment as well as round-the-clock care from his mother Carole and the family.

The Evening Star fought for Philip and his family to get compensation through our “Justice for Philip” campaign when the family lived at Sandpiper Road in Ipswich.

His sister, Lauren, was one of the Star's Kid in a Million finalists in 2002 when she was 14.

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Lauren has spent her life helping to look after her big brother - and has developed a special bond with Philip which has been very important to his development.

The family have been battling for compensation since 1987 - and the legal fight has been in the hands of specialist lawyers since 1998.

Carole took up the fight after a fellow pupil at Belstead School, Helen Edwards, won £3.9 million after plastic surgery to correct a birthmark went wrong and she was left with brain damage.

At the time Carole said: “I am very pleased that something is happening. I believe that I am now going to get the answers which I have never been given concerning Philip's operation.”

MONDAY'S court case will address a question which will become critical not only for victims of accidents but also for local authorities.

According to the law, those who are injured as a result of others' negligence have a claim against the organisation responsible for the injury - in this case Guy's hospital.

However under the National Assistance Act 1948, which helped set up the welfare state, local authorities have an obligation to provide residential care to victims of injury and accident where necessary.

The defendants in this case claim that the state should be responsible for paying for most of Philip's care, and they will pay the rest.

But in cases which involve the payment of millions of pounds compensation to those who have been catastrophically injured, the drain on local authority finances would be massive.

The issue has become of critical importance both for its financial implications and for the moral questions it raises. In effect the defendant is asking the state to pay for a large part of the care costs.

Philip Revett's case may be pursued to the Appeal Court and even to the House of Lords, in order to establish a ruling which will dictate the course of all other similar cases to follow.

The case is being managed by Sharon Cutts, a clinical negligence specialist with Thetford-based Kester Cunningham John.

She said: “The position involves two arguments, one moral and one financial.

“Is it right that a negligent person or organisation should be allowed to avoid paying for the entirety of the results of their negligence and instead leave a large proportion of that cost for the state to provide?

“And should local authorities have to pay what might be a multi-million pound bill to care for an injured person when the injury was caused by the negligence of another?”

The case, which opens at the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday, is expected to last five days.

Philip Revett timeline:

December 1985: Philip Revett was born with mild Down's syndrome and a small hole in the heart.

1987: Philip went into Guy's Hospital for an operation to correct his heart problem, during that operation he sustained brain damage.

1998: Family begin legal claim for compensation against Guys Hospital.

2000: Philip is one of the Star's Kids in a Million.

2002: Philip's sister Lauren is named a Kid in a Million by the Star.