Boy who suffered cheek injury during delivery at Rotunda maternity hospital receives €45,000 settlement

Four Courts

17 March 2022

A High Court action by a boy who suffered an injury to his cheek during his delivery in the Rotunda maternity hospital in Dublin has been settled for €45,000.

The court heard the settlement was agreed after experts for both sides in the case of Jake O’Connor disagreed over whether the injury was the result of negligence or just an inherent risk of necessary forceps delivery.

Jake (4), through his mother Jennifer Munnelly of Kenilworth Lane West, Rathgar, Dublin, sued the governors and guardians of the Rotunda for negligence and breach of duty at his birth in the hospital on December 20, 2017.

The claims were denied.

It was alleged that because of the failure of his mother’s labour to advance, a forceps delivery was undertaken.

During the procedure, it was claimed, due to a failure to use sufficient amounts of lubricant to minimise friction and because of a failure to adopt the appropriate technique, unacceptable force was applied to the right side of his face.

As a result, he suffered a laceration to his cheek which has left a lasting injury, it was claimed. The injury is more pronounced when he smiles and he may require plastic surgery when he is an adult, it was also claimed.

The court heard it was Jake’s case, based on a report from a Lancashire-based consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, SJ Duthie, that unacceptable force was applied when the forceps was used.

However, a report for the defendant’s side, from retired consultant obstetrician, Peter Boylan, former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, stated lacerations while using forceps can happen from time to time but this did not present a breach of duty on the part of the delivering obstetrician.

The fact a laceration may occur was simply an “inherent risk” of the procedure, Mr Boylan said.

The court heard it was Jake’s legal team’s view that the value of the case was between €60,000 and €70,000 but in view of the dispute on liability between the parties it was decided to accept an offer of €45,000.

The child’s parents were satisfied with the offer, Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told.

Approving the settlement, the judge said the sum offered was fair and reasonable.

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