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Family Wins Birth Negligence Case After Battling with HSE for Decade

A family has finally won a case for birth negligence compensation after battling with the HSE, who denied liability for the birth injuries for nearly a decade.

In May 2006, a baby boy was born at Kerry General Hosptial. He was born by emergency Caesarean Section, after his birth was avoidably delayed by approximately two hours. The circumstances surrounding his birth were difficult, due to the negligence of the staff involved in the procedure. The difficulties began when no action was taken on a CTG trace that indicated foetal distress, and when a measure of his heartbeat indicated that he was experiencing issues in the womb. No consultant obstetrician was informed these measurements, or of the potential dangers surrounding his birth, including the risk of foetal hypoxia or other adverse health issues.

Due to the avoidable delay, the boy endured a lack of oxygen in the womb. This resulted in him suffering from devastating brain damage. After later medical assessment, he was diagnosed with mixed dyskinetic spastic cerebral palsy. The boy, who is now ten years of age, requires 24-hour care by his family. He cannot communicate orally, and he will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Despite the negligence of their staff on several counts, the HSE failed to admit liability for the boy’s suffering for nearly a decade. During this time, the boy´s family had to care for him on their own without the support they should have received from the state.

The HSE only admitted liability in 2016 after a nine-year legal battle with the family. It was only after threats of aggravated damages by the family’s legal team that they were prompted to admit their liability and negligence. An interim settlement of €2.7 million compensation for brain damage at birth was rushed through the courts to alleviate the family of financial burdens as quickly as possible.

Further negotiations ensued between the two legal teams, and the family returned to court earlier this month for the approval of a final lump sum settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth. The final lump sum was agreed upon as €15 million . As the boy is a minor, the amount had to be approved by a judge to deem it sufficient to the boy’s long-term needs and in his best interests.

The case was heard by Judge Kelly at the High Court. He stated that he felt the settlement was “commercial common and legal sense”. He further paid tribute to the boy´s parents for their dedicated care of their son. He further added while no money would compensate the boy and his family, it was the only form of redress the law could provide. He hoped it would give peace of mind that there is a fund to care for the boy´s needs into the future. As the boy is a ward of court, the settlement of compensation for brain damage at birth will be paid into court funds and managed by court authorities.

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