22-year-old man with cerebral palsy who sued over the management of his birth settles High Court action for €11m

A 22-year-old man with cerebral palsy who sued over the management of his birth has settled his High Court action for €11 million.

Keith Phelan has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and has to use a wheelchair.

The settlement was against retired consultant obstetrician Dr Liam S Mundow of Douglas Road, Cork. Proceedings against the HSE were struck out.

Mr Phelan’s counsel, John O’Mahony SC, told the court serious consideration should have been given to the delivery of Keith on November 30, 1998 when the pregnancy was at 33 weeks. Dr Mundow told her she would be taken in to hospital 12 days later.

“Dr Mundow indicated he was going on holiday, hunting, and she would be brought in to hospital on December 12,” counsel said.

It was their case that the baby should have been delivered on November 30. When Mrs Phelan went to her GP on December 11 there was a red flag as she complained of the lack of foetal movement.

She was brought to St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork and Keith was delivered by emergency Caesarean section.

The baby had to be resuscitated, counsel said.

Mr Phelan, of Raheen Road, Youghal, Co Cork had through his mother Margaret Phelan, sued the HSE and Dr Mundow.

It was claimed there was a failure to properly investigate, diagnose or treat the true nature of her condition and her baby and that there was a delayed admission of Mrs Phelan to hospital.

Dr Mundow admitted that Mrs Phelan should have been hospitalised on November 30, 1998 with management in the form of close monitoring or delivery but denied other matters.

The HSE denied all claims in the case.

Mrs Phelan, who was a private patient of Dr Mundow, attended with the consultant obstetrician when she was 33 weeks pregnant and was noted to be suffering from hypertension.

It was determined she would attend at St Finbarr’s and at the hospital on November 24, 1998. It was claimed the hypertension along with headaches elevated blood pressure with mild pre eclamptic toxaemia were noted. She was informed that all was well with her pregnancy.

Six days later on November 30 1998, it is claimed Mrs Phelan attended at Dr Mondow’s private rooms and he noted hypertension, protein in the urine and her blood pressure.

She was informed that her pregnancy was to be managed with an admission into hospital on December 12, 1998.

It was claimed that Dr Mundow allegedly advised Mrs Phelan he would be away the following week.

On December 11, 1998, after attending her GP, she was immediately admitted to St Finbarr’s Hospital.

In the hospital a CTG trace of the baby’s heartbeat was commenced and it showed a flat trace. It was decided in the light of the abnormal CTG that the baby might be at risk of hypoxia.

Keith was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. He later had seizures. An MRI scan later showed a brain injury.

It was claimed there was a failure to properly investigate, diagnose or treat the true nature of the mother’s condition.

In particular it is claimed there was a failure to diagnose that the baby’s situation was such as to require immediate attention where the outcome was rendered significantly more adverse by any delay .

The baby’s health was as a result of the alleged inadequate and improper management and treatment jeopardised, and he was significantly deprived of the opportunity of a materially better outcome than would otherwise have been the case.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross congratulated Keith’s parents and family for all their work for their son.

Outside court Solicitor Ciaran McCarthy on behalf of the family said it had been a long journey for them.

They thanked their legal team, supporters and professional witnesses who assisted them and the courtesy they were shown along the way.

“This has been a long journey and it will make a huge difference to Keith’s life and his family. They have been extremely united “ he said .

Keith’s sisters Kelly and Lindsay were also in court for the ruling of the settlement.

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