Date fixed for case of couple who had an abortion after they were told of a fatal foetal abnormality


14 March 2021

THE HIGH COURT has fixed a date in June for the hearing of damages actions brought by a couple whose unborn child was aborted after they were told it had a fatal foetal abnormality.

The couple have sued, seeking damages, various parties including the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street and a private clinic Merrion Fetal Health, which is run by five consultant obstetrician gynaecologists.

The defendants deny any wrongdoing. The case is expected to take several days to hear.

The proceedings were briefly mentioned before the High Court this week, when it made orders allowing a Scottish-based health board which allegedly carried out some of the testing at the centre of the claims to be added as a defendant to the separate damages actions from the couple.

In their actions the couple claim that in 2019 they received two test results indicating their baby had a fatal foetal abnormality, but a later test result, received after the termination had been carried out at the NMH, showed it had no genetic condition.

They claim that they were wrongly told that the unborn child had a fatal genetic abnormality, resulting in an unnecessary termination.

Arising out of the management of the pregnancy the couple have brought damages claims seeking damages for personal injuries and nervous shock they suffered due to the defendants alleged negligence.

A pretrial issue in the action came before the High Court this week when Ms Justice Deidre Murphy heard that the defendants are seeking to add the Scottish-based Greater Glasgow Health Board (GGHB) to the proceedings.

The court heard that the defendants have claimed that certain tests carried out on the plaintiff’s unborn child was performed by the defendants and sent on for specialist analysis to the GGHB.

The application was being made by the defendants to be joined as a third party to the action on the grounds that have obtained expert advice that there were failings in a report sent by the GGHB to the defendants.

It is also claimed that the report furnished by the GGHB does not accord with best practise guidelines and that certain evidence was not taken into account.

The defendants claims that the GGHB is an appropriate party from whom the defendants are entitled to seek an indemnity from, and sought to add the as a third party to the claims.

However, the plaintiffs, represented by Richard Kean SC, sought to have GGHB added as a defendant to the actions.

The judge, after considering submissions from the parties, said she was prepared to add the Greater Glasgow Health Board as a defendant to the case.

The judge then put a timetable in place for the exchange of documents in the case, and granted the liberty to make any application it requires to the court in advance of the June hearing date.

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