Rotunda apologises and makes €3.7m interim settlement for boy’s birth injuries

The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin has apologised and made an interim settlement of €3.7m for the “shortcomings and failings” in care surrounding the birth of a boy more than a decade ago, the High Court heard.

Cian O’Connor, from Glasnevin, Dublin, has a learning disability and other motor coordination issues because of injuries allegedly sustained during his birth in 2008, the court heard.

Now aged 13, he has settled his legal action against the Dublin hospital for an interim sum of €3.7 million, which covers the period until 2032.

A letter on behalf of the hospital management and staff was read out in court, apologising for the “shortcomings and failings in care provided to Cian”.

“We do not underestimate how difficult this has been for your family and the challenge you and your family have faced as a result of these shortcomings and failings,” it continued.

The boy’s mother, Deirdre O’Connor, told the court she appreciates the apology but is “saddened it took so long to get”.

Cian had through his mother, with an address in Ballygall, Dublin 11, sued the Dublin hospital over the care received around the time of his birth on October 18, 2008.

The boy’s lawyer, Bruce Antoniotti SC, said his side were “very happy” with the figure and the terms of the agreement. It is appropriate this settlement covers a 10-year period as this is a “fluctuating situation” and it is “difficult to predict” Cian’s future needs, he said.

Mr Antoniotti said the primary problems Cian faces are his learning difficulties and some behavioural issues. He has dyspraxia and a short attention span, becoming easily frustrated with his abilities, he said. Cian will require long-term speech and language therapy, said counsel.

The court heard that, following his birth, Cian suffered neonatal seizures and there was evidence of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a type of brain dysfunction that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen or blood flow.

Upon discharge from the hospital 12 days after his birth it did not seem that he had suffered significant injuries, said Mr Antoniotti. He did not suffer a seizure again until the age of seven, and as time progressed it became clear Cian had a learning disability and had some motor coordination issues, the court heard.

It was claimed his mother was given the labour hormone oxytocin when it was not necessary or appropriate. There was also an alleged failure to fully assess the foetal condition and to provide the required treatment.

Liability was not at issue, and the case came before Mr Justice Paul Coffey for approval of the settlement.

The judge was satisfied the figure was “fair and reasonable”, given the boy’s current and anticipated needs. He approved the settlement and conveyed his best wishes to Cian and his family.

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