Paul v The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2019] EWHC 2893 (QB) (11 November 2019)

This is an application by D made under CPR r 3 and CPR r 24 of the CPR to strike out the claims of the Second and Third Cs it being alleged that the statement of case discloses no reasonable grounds for bringing the claims or alternatively that the claims have no real prospects of success. [1]

The Second and Third Cs’ claims are what have come to be known as “secondary victim” claims. They seek damages for psychiatric injury caused by witnessing the death of their father Mr Paul. For present purposes I must take the facts to be those alleged by the Claimants and summarised in Ms Johnson’s skeleton argument. [3]

Mr Paul had Type II diabetes and, with this, a number of complications…In November 2012 he was admitted as an emergency complaining of chest and jaw pain. He was given treatment for acute coronary syndrome but no cardiac investigations were performed apart from echocardiography. An outpatient exercise test and dobutamine stress echocardiogram were performed. The exercise test was positive but the dobutamine stress echocardiogram was negative, showing normal left ventricular function and no evidence of ischaemia. [4]

…He was seen on 9 January 2014 and an elective coronary angiography was recommended. Mr Paul died less than three weeks later when he collapsed in the street when on a shopping trip with his two daughters. [6]

It is the Cs’ case that there were failures in the care given to Mr Paul when he was seen for cardiac symptoms in November 2012. [7]

In the circumstances the Second and Third Cs’ secondary victim claims are, in my judgment, bound to fail. Mr Paul’s tragic death 14 ½ months after the negligent incident, in circumstances separated in space and time from the negligence I must assume occurred in the hospital, cannot possibly be said to be the “relevant event” for deciding the proximity required to establish liability under the established control mechanisms. It follows that D’s application must succeed and the secondary victim claims of the Second and Third Cs will be struck out. [41]