A newspaper was yesterday ordered by a judge to pay a 'timid' lawyer more than $3.6 million for depressing her so much with an untrue front-page story that led to her giving birth prematurely. In her landmark judgment, Madam Justice Maria Yuen Ka-ning held that a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit could recover damages for mental and physical injury proved to flow 'naturally and directly' from a civil wrong. Mother of two Jessie Chu Siu Kuk-yuen, 40, a solicitor described by the judge as 'timid', suffered depression, anxiety and stress because of the defamatory Apple Daily report on October 7, 1998. The stress weighed so much on Mrs Chu that it 'materially contributed' to her giving pre-term birth to a boy on November 18, 1998, the judge said. The baby weighed 1kg and was in a life-threatening condition and was not allowed home until the following February. Madam Justice Yuen awarded Mrs Chu $3 million for the hurt and distress caused and the harm to her reputation. She also awarded $470,000 for loss of profits, $177,042 for psychiatric and pre-term delivery-related costs and $30,303 for money spent on adverts denying the content of the newspaper article. The front-page newspaper article alleged Mrs Chu absconded from law firm Jessie Chu & Co with more than $2 million of her clients' money. Apple Daily ran an apology the following day. Madam Justice Yuen ruled that the defendants - proprietor and publisher Apple Daily Ltd, printer Apple Daily Printing Ltd and editor Ip Yut-kin - had been 'grossly negligent'.