A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation offered to a disabled teenager in a birth injury case.
In November 2000, Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital. Her mother – Fiona – had been admitted to the hospital very early in the morning after experiencing irregular contractions.
Following her admission into hospital, Fiona underwent a CTG trace on foetal heartbeat. The results of the trace registered abnormal readings, which suggested Katie was in distress and was being deprived of oxygen in the womb.
However, it took nearly an hour and a half for an emergency Caesarean Section to be organised. As such, when Katie was delivered, she showed no signs of life as she had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Staff at the hospital intervened and resuscitate Katie. She was then transferred to an intensive care unit for further observation. However, Katie had suffered severe brain injuries due to a lack of oxygen in the womb. She was born severely disabled, and will require constant care for the rest of her life.
Fiona Martin sought legal counsel and made a compensation claim for the delay in delivering a child on her daughter´s behalf. However, the Coombe Hospital denied its liability for Katie´s injuries. They stated that Katie was deprived of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital, and thus they were not liable for Katie’s injuries.
The hospital argued that that there was nothing that could have been done to prevent Katie´s brain injury and prepared a full defence against the compensation claim for the delay in delivering a child. Due to the contest in liability, the case was brought to court.
At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that a settlement of €4 million compensation for a delayed birth injury had been negotiated without admission of liability from the hospital. As such, the case was before her for approval of the settlement rather than determination of liability.
The judge was told the circumstances of Katie´s brain damage before approving the settlement and commenting that it was a good one in the circumstances.