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Compensation Awarded to Woman Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy due to Negligence Surrounding her Birth

A woman has been awarded compensation by the High Court for medical negligence surrounding her birth, which left her deprived of oxygen. She was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Shortly before her birth in October 1999, at the Mayo General Hospital, Mary Malee was suffering from foetal distress syndrome. As a result, she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. Despite the urgency of the situation, there was a delay of nearly eighty minutes in carrying out the procedure. No consultant was available to assist the delivery in spite of the early signs of foetal distress. Mary was deprived of oxygen in utero, resulting in her suffering from brain damage. After subsequent medical examinations, Mary was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She is entirely dependant upon her wheelchair for mobility.

Maura Malee sought legal counsel to claim compensation for her daughter’s birth injuries. Acting on her daughter’s behalf, she made a claim for birth injuries compensation against Mayo General Hospital. In the claim, it is alleged by Maura that her daughter’s injuries were caused by the hospital’s lack of consultants, and their inability to source one upon the diagnosis of an elevated foetal heart rate. She further claimed that delay in having a Caesarean section caused by this negligence lead to Mary’s brain damage.

The case was heard at the High Court at the beginning of 2014 by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. The judge approved an interim settlement of compensation worth €1.5 million. She then adjourned the case for two years such that a payment scheme could be established so the family could receive regular payments in the place of a lump sum.Yet no scheme was ever introduced and as such the Mary and her parents returned to the High Court last week for the approval of final settlement of €5.56 million.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly oversaw proceedings. A representative of Mayo General Hospital read an official statement which apologised to Mary for the “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”. Judge Kelly then approved the compensation settlement, commending Mary’s heroism in facing the challenges her injuries present.

Mary, speaking to a reporter after the approval of the settlement, commented that “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it … it’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me. Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives”.

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