201605.03
0

Final Delayed Delivery Compensation Settlement Approved in Court

A final delayed delivery compensation settlement has been approved in the High Court in favour of a sixteen-year-old girl who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 after becoming distressed in the womb. Due to there being no consultant available to assist with the birth, Mary´s delivery was avoidably delayed by eighty minutes. By the time she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, Mary had sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen and she now suffers from cerebral palsy.

Mary´s mother – Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – claimed a delayed delivery compensation settlement from the Health Service Executive, alleging that there had been a failure by the Mayo General Hospital to ensure that a paediatrician was present after a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified, and that the hospital´s negligence had led to the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner.

In March 2014, an interim delayed delivery compensation settlement of €1.5 million was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who then adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured settlement system. As no system for the phased payment of compensation to catastrophically injured claimants has yet been introduced, Mary and her family returned to the High Court to hear the approval of a final delayed delivery compensation settlement.

At the hearing a statement was read to Mary by representatives of the Mayo General Hospital, who apologised for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth” and who told Mr Justice Peter Kelley that a final delayed delivery compensation settlement of €5.56 million had been agreed with the family.

After hearing from Mary that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”, the judge approved the final delayed delivery compensation settlement. Judge Kelly also described Mary as “heroic” for the challenges she has overcome so far in her life and commended her for her ambition to become an advocate for people with disabilities.

201507.24
1

State Claims Agency Criticised after Settlement of Claim for Severe Birth Injuries

The mother of a brain damaged girl has criticised the State Claims Agency for delaying the settlement of her daughter´s claim for severe birth injuries.

Alex Butler (10) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, “blue and lifeless” after her delivery had been mismanaged and she had been deprived of oxygen in the womb.

Alex was resuscitated, but is tetraplegic and normally confined to a wheelchair. Only through the efforts of her parents is Alex capable of walking a few steps, but she will require full-time care for the rest of her life.

Through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a claim for severe birth injuries against the Health Service Executive (HSE), her mother´s consultant obstetrician John Bermingham, and the locum Mahmud Khbuli who had failed to identify the need for an emergency Caesarean Section when Alex´s foetal heartrate dropped.

The HSE admitted liability and the case against the two doctors was dismissed. The family received a €1.4 million interim settlement of compensation in 2013, and the claim for severe birth injuries was recently heard once again at the High Court for a final settlement to be approved.

Even though liability had been admitted and an apology read out to the family at the start of the proceedings, it took eighteen days for the State Claims Agency to agree to a €9 million final settlement of the claim for severe birth injuries – provoking Alex´s mother to describe their attitude as “disgusting”.

“They fought tooth and nail” Sonya told the press after the settlement had been approved. “They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

In response, the State Claims Agency issued a statement which read: “The State Claims Agency recognises that clinical negligence cases involve patients who have suffered enormous trauma and pain. The Agency is acutely conscious that it has a duty to act fairly, ethically and with compassion in all its dealings with these patients and their families.”

The statement concluded by attacking the lack of a structured settlement system: “The Agency has frequently stated that the current legal system for resolving medical negligence cases is not fit for purpose and has been to the forefront in introducing reforms to make the process easier for the families involved.”

201502.18
0

Interim Settlement of a Cerebral Palsy Claim Approved

An interim settlement of a cerebral palsy claim against the Kerry General Hospital has been approved in court in favour of a three–year-old girl.

Skye Worthington was born at the Kerry General Hospital on April 22nd 2011 after her mother – Colleen – had been administered with syntocinon to accelerate her labour. Colleen´s contractions thereafter became very strong, but a prolonged deceleration of Skye´s heartbeat went unnoticed and the baby was starved of oxygen in the womb.

Due the brain damage she suffered at her birth, Skye – now three years of age – now suffers from cerebral palsy. She has to be fed through a tube and can only communicate with her eyes. An investigation into the circumstances of her delivery revealed that if Skye had been born fifteen minutes earlier, she would have suffered no injury at all.

Through her mother, Skye made a cerebral palsy claim against the Kerry General Hospital – alleging that, were it not for the negligence of the maternity staff, she would not have suffered a devastating birth injury. The hospital and HSE admitted liability and an interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim was agreed pending an assessment of Skye´s future needs.

At the High Court, Skye´s patents and Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard a statement read to the court in which the HSE South/South-West Hospital Group and the maternity department of Kerry General Hospital apologised unreservedly for the errors that led to Skye´s birth injuries – an apology which Mr Justice Kevin Cross described as “out of the ordinary and very meaningful”.

The judge then explained to Skye´s parents that he was approving a €2.52 million interim settlement of the cerebral palsy claim and adjourning Skye´s case for three years. This meant that once the assessment of Skye´s needs had been completed, they could either request a lump sum final settlement of the cerebral palsy claim or – subject to legislation being introduced – annual periodic payments.

201412.15
0

Judge Denies Lump Sum Compensation Settlement

A High Court judge has denied a plaintiff a lump sum compensation settlement, saying that it would be catastrophic if he approved it and the money ran out later.

The plaintiff – Connor Corroon from Mallow in County Cork – had made his appeal to the High Court for a lump sum compensation settlement having twice previously received interim payments of compensation for birth injuries due to negligence.

Connor was born at the Cork City General Hospital in 1995 with cerebral palsy after having been deprived of oxygen in the womb. Now 19 years of age, Connor is permanently disabled, confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak.

Through his mother – Judith – Connor successfully made a claim for compensation against the hospital in 2010 and was awarded an interim settlement of €1.6 million. A second interim payment of compensation amounting to €475,000 was made last year while reports were being conducted into Connor´s future requirements.

Prior to this hearing, Judith had asked the court of her son´s behalf to approve a lump sum compensation settlement on the grounds that Connor had undergone more than twenty assessments in preparation for return visits to court, and that she wanted her son to be able to get on with his life and not have to continually undergo assessments.

However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Bernard Barton denied the application for a lump sum compensation settlement – stating that it would be catastrophic if the court authorised a final payment and the funds ran out. Instead, the judge approved a further interim payment of €1.45 million and adjourned Connor´s claim for another five years.

The judge explained his decision to the family by informing them that he – along with other judges presiding over this type of case – had just received a consultation paper from the Department of Justice relating to legislation for the introduction of structured periodic payments. A proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill was hoped to be passed this year, but could become legislation within the next few months.

201406.20
0

Interim Obstetrician Negligence Compensation Payment Approved

A High Court judge has approved a further interim payment of obstetrician negligence compensation in favour of an eight-year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Luke Miggin of Athboy, County Meath, suffered brain damage prior his birth on 26th February 2006 at Mullingar General Hospital due to consultant obstetrician Michael Gannon failing to act on decelerations of the child´s heart rate recorded on CTG traces taken throughout the day.

Luke has cerebral palsy due to the obstetrician´s negligence, is confined to a wheelchair and will need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

Liability for Luke´s birth injuries was admitted by Mr Gannon and the Health Service Executive in 2010 and, in January 2011, an interim settlement of obstetrician negligence compensation was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke, pending the introduction of legislation to allow for a structure settlement to be put in place.

However, with no such legislation yet available, Luke´s mother – Emily – had to return to court to have a further interim payment of obstetrician negligence compensation approved; where she was commended for her patience by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who apologised for successive Ministers of Justice failing to deliver on their promises of periodic payments.

The judge approved a second interim obstetrician negligence compensation payment of €580,000 to add to the €1.35 million interim payment Luke received in 2011. The payment is in respect of Luke´s care for the next three years, after which time Emily Miggin will have to return to court once again for a further interim payment of compensation or to have the terms of a structured settlement approved.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine expressed her frustration at not being able to approve a final settlement of obstetrician negligence compensation, and commented that the ongoing litigation prevents families such as the Miggins from getting on with their lives.

201311.26
0

Interim Payment of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Approved

A High Court judge has approved an interim payment of cerebral palsy compensation for a 12 year old girl who sustained birth injuries due to the negligence of an obstetric consultant.

Roisin Conroy was born at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portloaise on 14th November 2001, four days after her mother – Mary Conroy of Portlaoise, County Laois – had attended the hospital, believing that her waters had broke. Mary was sent home after being reassured that everything was okay but, three days after attended the clinic of Dr John Corristine – her private consultant obstetrician – and, following an ultrasound at the clinic, Mary insisted she be admitted into hospital.

A CTG scan conducted at the hospital failed to indicate any sign of contractions, and Mary was advised to take a bath. However, there was insufficient hot water was available at the hospital so Dr Corristine prescribed Mary with some medicine to induce labour. Thereafter, Dr Corristine was not present during Mary´s labour or Roisin´s birth the next day.

When Roisin was born the following morning, she suffered seizures soon after her birth and was transferred to a neo-natal unit in Dublin. However, her condition failed to improve and Roisin was diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy – due to which she is permanently disabled and can only communication using eye movement.

Mary blamed herself for Roisin´s condition, and insisted on having her next two children delivered by Caesarean Section. Both Mary and her husband Kevin gave up work to look after Roisin, believing what the hospital had told them that nothing could have been done to avoid the tragedy and that the couple had just been unlucky.

An investigation was launched into the circumstances Roisin´s birth after the couple had spoken with a solicitor and, with evidence of negligence against both the hospital and the obstetric consultant, Kevin and Mary made a claim for cerebral palsy against both the Health Service executive (HSE) and Dr Corristine on their daughter´s behalf.

Both the defendants denied their responsibilities for Roisin´s injuries for almost two years until – five weeks before a scheduled court hearing – the hospital and Dr Corristine admitted that errors had been made in the management of Mary´s pregnancy which led to Roisin suffering birth injuries.

An interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy amounting to €2.3 million was negotiated between the parties and, at the High Court in Dublin, the interim payment of compensation for cerebral palsy was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

The family also heard an apology read to them by an HSE representative and Dr Corristine, after which Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case for two years so that an assessment of Roisin´s future needs can be made and to allow time for the introduction of a system of structured compensation payments.

201311.20
0

Second Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Payment Approved

A High Court judge has approved a second interim cerebral palsy compensation payment for a young girl who was born with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy in 2004 due to the negligence of her mother´s consultant.

Isabelle Sheehan (now 8 years of age) was born at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork on November 29th 2004 by emergency Caesarean Section, after a blood test on her mother – Catherine – had revealed an alarming rise in the presence of certain blood group antibodies.

Unfortunately, Catherine Sheehan´s consultant doctor – Dr David Corr – had failed to refer Catherine to an expert in foetal medicine, who would have identified potential difficulties with the pregnancy due to a clash between the antibodies in Catherine´s blood and those of her husband – Colm Sheehan.

When Isabelle was born, she was in a poor condition and was diagnosed with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Through her mother, Isabelle made a claim for compensation for the negligence of the consultant doctor, who admitted liability for Isabelle´s injuries when the case was first heard in October 2011.

At the original hearing, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill approved an interim cerebral palsy compensation payment of €1.9 million, and adjourned the case for two years in the hope that a structured compensation payments system would be in place to assure a life time of care for Isabelle.

However, as no legislation has yet been passed in Ireland which would allow a structured system of compensation payments, the case was back in front of Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who heard that a further interim cerebral palsy compensation payment of €635,000 had been agreed between the parties to provide the care that Isabelle needs for a further two years.

After hearing that Isabelle is “bright and intelligent” and keeping up with children in her mainstream national school class with the help of a home assistant, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the interim cerebral palsy compensation payment, adjourned the case for a further two years and wished Isabelle a very good future.

201306.07
0

Court Approves Interim Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement

An interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement has been approved in the High Court for a thirteen-year-old boy who sustained irreversible brain damage during his birth.

Ryan Brennan from Cahir in County Tipperary was born at St. Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel in January 2000; hours after abnormalities had been discovered in the foetal heart rate tracing. Following his delivery, Ryan had to be resuscitated and later in the day suffered seizures.

It was claimed by Ryan´s parents – Lorraine and Raymond – that Ryan suffered irreversible brain damage and cerebral palsy due to a failure to act by the hospital´s consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell – and that Ryan´s injuries could have been avoided if staff at the hospital had acted with greater diligence.

On behalf of their son, the Brennans made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation against Dr Powell and the Health Service Executive (HSE) for alleged negligence, breach of duty and breach of contract.

The two defendants denied responsibility for Ryan´s injuries but, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that an interim cerebral palsy compensation settlement of €1.7 million had been agreed with the HSE without admission of liability and that the claim against Dr Powell could be struck out.

The interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy is for two years to allow for reports on Ryan´s future needs to be conducted and to allow for the possible introduction of a periodic payment system. After commenting that the settlement was ‘in the upper parameters of these types of cases’, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement.

201305.15
0

Compensation for Catastrophic Birth Injuries Approved in Court

An interim payment of compensation for catastrophic birth injuries has been approved in the High Court for a ten-year-old boy who suffers from severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

In February, the Coombe Hospital was found liable in a catastrophic birth injury claim brought against it by Dr Fiona Murphy of Malahide, County Dublin, on behalf of her son Eoin.

Eoin had been delivered at the hospital in July 2002 suffering from near total acute hypoxic ischaemia, but was not ventilated until seventeen minutes later because a paediatric registrar was not available at the time. As a consequence of the avoidable delay, Eoin´s brain was starved of oxygen and he now suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

After finding the Coombe Women’s and Infants’ University Hospital liable for Eoin´s injuries, Ms Justice Mary Irvine adjourned the case in February for the assessment of damages, and  yesterday the family were back in court to hear Mr Justice Michael Moriarty approved an interim settlement of compensation for catastrophic birth injuries amounting to €2.9 million.

The settlement is intended to provide initial support and care for Eoin, with a further hearing scheduled for two years time, when a review of Eoin´s future needs will be conducted and by which time a structured compensation payment system may be in place. After approving the settlement, the judge said it had been “a harrowing, taxing and difficult case” for Eoin’s family and legal advisers.

As part of the settlement of compensation for catastrophic birth injuries, the Coombe Hospital is also to drop its Supreme Court appeal against the February decision which found the hospital liable for Eoin´s injuries.

201304.24
0

Claim for Birth Injuries due to Lack of Staff Resolved in Court

The family of a girl who suffered brain damage at her birth due to hospital obstetric negligence have had their claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff resolved at the High Court in Dublin.

Alex Butler (8) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005; however, due to the hospital´s failure to have an adequate number of properly trained competent medical staff to deal with the Alex´s delivery, and to ensure that an adequate and properly competent obstetrician was available, Alex´s delivery was delayed by twelve minutes – during which time she suffered brain damage which led to permanent tetraplegic injury.

Through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff at the hospital, alleging that her consultant obstetrician had been allowed to take leave at the same time as the hospital´s two other obstetricians and that the hospital had employed a locum obstetrician without ensuring that he competent. It was further claimed that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment was substandard and there was a failure to recognise the necessity for a Caesarean section.

The High Court heard that the Health Service Executive (HSE) admitted liability for Alex´s injuries, and the claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff against the consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and locum obstetrician – Mahmud Khbuli – were dismissed. A representative from Waterford read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex´s birth and accepted that the mistakes that were made should never have happened.

The Court also heard that an interim settlement of Alex´s claim for birth injuries due to a lack of staff amounting to €1.4 million had been agreed upon between the HSE and Alex´s parents. The compensation settlement is to be reviewed again in two years when an assessment of Alex´s care needs for the future has been made, and by which time it is hoped that the option of a structured settlement is available.

201211.08
0

Compensation for Delayed Hospital Action Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for delayed hospital action has been approved at the High Court in the case of Brid Courtney – two years after the brain damaged child was awarded an interim payment.

Brid, who is now nine years old and comes from Ardfert in County Kerry, was born in Tralee General Hospital in February 2003 suffering from brain damage after medical staff at the hospital allegedly failed to act on a sudden and dramatic change in the foetal heart rate pattern.

As a consequence of the decrease in heart beat, Brid suffered perinatal asphyxia in the womb and because of the oxygen starvation is now confined to a wheelchair from which she has to be lifted bodily. She is also unable to speak and has to rely on the use of her eyes and facial expressions to communicate with her family.

Following a claim for injury due to delayed hospital action made through her mother – Deidre – the Health Service Executive agreed to settle the claim without admission of liability and, in November 2010, Mr Justice John Quirke approved an interim payment of 2 million Euros and adjourned the case for two years to allow for the introduction of periodic payments.

However, a system for periodic compensation payments for catastrophic injuries has still not been brought in by the government and – two years after the initial payment of compensation for delayed hospital action was approved – the case returned before the court for the approval of a final settlement.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard evidence from experts that a further 9 million Euros in compensation for delayed hospital action would be required to provide adequate care for Brid through the remainder of her expected life and, as both Brid´s mother and the Health Service Executive agreed with the expert´s assessment, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement.

201210.11
0

Call for Periodic Payments of Compensation in Ireland

A senior judge has repeated her call for the introduction of periodic payments of compensation in Ireland for victims of catastrophic injury.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine made her comments while presiding over a case adjourned in 2010 in anticipation of legislation permitting periodic payments of compensation in Ireland. “I am not going to extend the hardship any further” said the judge, highlighting the fact that a number of cases are scheduled to be heard in which claimants are suffering due to the delay in legislation.

The judge noted that lump sum payments were often inappropriate because if the life expectancy of a claimant was wrongly estimated, either the injured claimant could run out of money to provide the care they need long before they die or – as happened recently – a claimant could die within a short time of an award being made – with their family being the recipient of a substantial windfall at the expense of the State.

Ms Justice Irvine added that a High Court Working Group had unanimously recommended three and a half years ago that a system of periodic payments of compensation in Ireland be established, but the Government were yet to act on the recommendation and there was no sign that any legislation was forthcoming.

In July, Ms Justice Mary Irvine announced “we are not protecting the welfare of the young and most vulnerable in society” after approving an award of 5.5 million Euros to a child who had been born with cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence and on this occasion added that she had the support of Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns – President of the High Court.

201204.21
0

Record Car Crash Injury Compensation in Ireland Approved

The highest ever award of car crash injury compensation in Ireland was made this week to a boy who sustained devastating injuries while travelling as a passenger in a car driven by his mother.

Cullen Kennedy (10), of Loughrea, County Galway, was awarded 11.5 million Euros at the High Court in Dublin following an accident in May 2008 when he was thrown against the windscreen of his mother´s car – despite being secured in a bolster chair on the rear seat – and suffered such devastating injuries that he is now a quadriplegic and breathes through a ventilator.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that on May 5th 2008, Cullen´s mother – Margaret – was momentarily distracted by her son and due to a “momentary lapse of concentration” wandered into the path of an oncoming car. Neither Margaret nor the driver of the other vehicle suffered any serious injury, but Cullen suffered severe spinal injuries which will confine him to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

As Margaret Cullen was an uninsured driver, a claim for car accidents without insurance compensation was made by Cullen´s grandmother on his behalf against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). After assessing the care that Cullen had already received and what he made need for the future, an award of 11.5 million Euros was agreed which, although being a record for car crash injury compensation in Ireland, drew criticism from Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

Approving the lump sum payment, but condemning the lack of Periodic Payment Orders (PPOs), Ms Justice Mary Irvine said that the courts were gambling with the lives of those who had suffered catastrophic injuries. “The reality is the courts don’t know when people are going to die,” she said. “We are gambling every day.” Her comments were made in the context of an injured person living longer than anticipated by medical experts and running out of money to fund their care.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine noted that a working group on Periodic Payment Orders had been established in 2008, and had reported in October 2010 that legislation should be introduced to allow cases concerning a catastrophic injury to be settled on the basis of annual payments (PPOs). While Ms Justice Mary Irvine had “no doubt the Government has very significant issues to deal with” she said that the absence of legislation had left the courts guessing about the security, welfare and futures of the most vulnerable litigants.

201008.01
0

Ireland’s First Structured Injury Compensation Settlement Approved

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, has approved one of Ireland’s first ever structured personal injury compensation payment  Iarnród Éireann  for a security guard severely injured by collapsing steel gate. The victim suffered frontal lobe damage that changed his personality, reduced his mental capacity, and made him less aware of his surroundings.

As well as €250,000 in general damages and special damages, Iarnród Éireann has agreed to make regular index-linked payments to the injured man, including €160,000 in annual care costs in a unit operated by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, and €1,200 montly until retirement age for loss of earnings.

The settlement agreement is an interim agreement pending expected legislation on structured compensation payments, with the case adjourned until October 2011. This new type of settlement is aimed at solving the problems associated with serious injury victims where life-expectancy and future care costs were unclear.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns described the settlement as “imaginative, forward-looking and eminently sensible”.

It should be noted that this type of structured personal injury compensation payment will be relatively rare – only applying in cases where future long term care costs for serious injuries are unknown.  The vast majority of personal injury claims will continued to be settled in the conventional manner involving negotiations between a solicitor and an insurance company.