Regardless of the scale or the sums involved, Leigh Day's work is about real humans. It is often fascinating, sometimes emotionally charged, and always different to the usual trainee treadmill. The following is just a taster of the variety you can expect.
Personal injury (PI)
Leigh Day has challenged water company United Utilities over the presence of microbial parasite cryptosporidium in its water, calling on it to publicise the problems. Traces of the parasite, which can cause long-term health problems for the elderly and young, were found in a treatment centre in Preston. This means thousands of customers may have had exposure to the parasite which can lead to gastrointestinal problems.
Leigh Day's industrial diseases team is working with former pilots on cases of Aerotoxic Syndrome, a potentially lethal condition caused by exposure to the toxin organophosate. This comes after the death of pilot Matthew Bass whose autopsy revealed traces of the toxin. Organophosate is found in heated aeroplane fuel which then leaks into cabins. Symptoms can include memory loss, seizures and constant fatigue.
Clinical negligence (clin neg)
The clin neg team recently obtained a settlement for a man who suffered severe complications after undergoing an ordinary bowel cancer procedure. During laparoscopic surgery (keyhole surgery) to remove the cancerous area of the bowel, the process of re-joining the bowel ends was performed incorrectly, resulting in a leak that made the patient very ill and in need of several follow-up procedures over a number of years. A simple, safe test (informally known as the 'bicycle tyre test') would have allowed the surgeon to identify the leak and repair it during surgery; having failed to ensure that this happened, the two consultants in charge of the procedure left the patient with life-long health complications.
A boy with quadriplegic cerebral palsy – a result of delays in his labour – was awarded a settlement of £2.5 million and payments of a maximum of £296,141 to cover life-long care needs. Abnormalities in his heart rate were detected 45 minutes before the birth and, 30 minutes before the birth, no foetal heart rate was detected. The baby was born at 5.20am and needed to be resuscitated – before having multiple seizures and breathing difficulties in the neonatal unit. Without the hospital's unnecessary delays, he'd have been born at 5am and avoided all injuries.
This is a growing area of work for Leigh Day and ties into the big child abuse scandals that have hit the headlines one after the other in the past few years, from those involving old TV personalities like Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and Rolf Harris to failures in national government as well as regional authorities.
Abuse lawyer Alison Millar recently represented two complainants as they pursued historic sexual assault and child cruelty charges against a former housemaster at the Royal Alexandra and Albert School. Despite serving prison sentences for abuse in both 1988 and 1998, the defendant was still given a reference from the Royal Alexandra and Albert School's previous headmaster – allowing him to return to a teaching post until a national newspaper 'outed' him. In May 2016, he was sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment after the jury gave a unanimous guilty verdict.
In what's been dubbed a 'modern slavery case', the firm recently acted on behalf of six Lithuanian men who accused Kent-based DJ Houghton Catching Service of subjecting them to continuous labour for which they were underpaid. Workers were trafficked from Lithuania, lived in overcrowded houses without a bed, shower or sufficient food, and were forced to work.