Teenager with cerebral palsy secures €12.5m settlement over ‘negligent’ decision at birth

19 July 2021

A 17-year-old boy with cerebral palsy has secured a final payment of €12.5m as settlement of his High Court action over the circumstances of his birth at Waterford Regional Hospital.

This brings to €15.6m the total paid to the young man who is a ward of court and cannot be identified.

The president of the High Court Ms Justice Mary Irvine today approved the final settlement payment of €12.5m which was reached after mediation and will go towards the teenager’s future care needs.

She said the settlement will give the young man the best quality of life and that he was now 17 years of age and a source of great joy to his family.

“The settlement will give him all he needs to live the best life he can,” she said in a remote ruling of the case.

Michael Counihan SC, instructed by Emmet Halley solicitor for the young man, told the court he is thriving and that was due to the care of his parents over the last number of years. The settlement, counsel said, will mean that he has enough to allow for his full care for the rest of his life.

The 17-year-old had already received a number of interim payments.

He had sued the HSE, alleging negligence in the circumstances of his birth in December 2003.

Circumstances around his birth

He was born by emergency Caesarean section when his mother was 28 weeks’ pregnant and, among various claims, it was alleged the decision to perform the emergency Caesarean was negligent.

It was also alleged the sodium level of the child’s blood had dropped unnoticed endangering the development of brain cells.

In 2013, a High Court judge ruled that a doctor’s diagnosis of abruption, which led to the decision to perform the Caesarean, was on the balance of probabilities wrong.

The decision to proceed to deliver by emergency Caesarean in a non-emergency situation was negligent, the judge ruled.

Settlement

The HSE had indicated it intended to appeal but then settled the case with future care needs set aside until now.

In an affidavit to the High Court today, the boy’s mother said her son suffered a series of complications associated with pre-term delivery including respiratory failure and depleted sodium in his blood stream. He was two years later diagnosed with cerebral palsy in all four limbs and later again with epilepsy.

Approving the latest final settlement sum in the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine praised the wonderful support of the teenager’s parents and their extraordinary care for him. She wished the family all the best and every success in the future.

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