Four-year-old Jake O’Connor, who sustained an injury to his cheek when he was being delivered at the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin, has had his High Court compensation action settled for €45,000 

After hearing testimony from medical experts on both teams the compensation settlement was agreed , despite some debate in relation to the cause of the injury being either medical negligence or simply just there being unnecessary danger due to the use of forceps during the delivery.

Taking the legal action through his mother – Jennifer Munnelly of Kenilworth Lane West, Rathgar, Dublin – against the governors and guardians of the Rotunda maternity hospital in relation to the negligence and breach of duty when he was delivered on December 20, 2017.

All of the allegations were refuted by the legal representatives for the defendants. 

The court was informed that the legal team for the plaintiff were arguing, on behalf of their client and  based on a report from a Lancashire-based consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician SJ Duthie, that too much force was being used with the forceps during delivery.

During the hearing the legal team for the plaintiff claimed that there was a failure by the medical team to advance his mother’s labour and, due to this, a forceps delivery was completed. Additionally it was claimed that as there was a failure to apply an adequate amount of lubricant during that procedure, in order to reduce friction, and due to the fact the proper method was not being used too much force was placed to the right side of the newborn’s face.

This course of event, if it was claimed, inflicted a laceration on Jake’s cheek which has left a wound. The Judge was informed that the wound is more noticeable when Jake smiles and, due to this, it may be necessary for him to undergo a cosmetic surgery procedure when he is older.

Counsel for the defence produced medical testimony from expert and retired consultant obstetrician Peter Boylan, former Master of the National Maternity Hospital, that claimed the wounds inflicted due to the use of the forceps are a regular occurance and are not indicative of the a breach of duty on the part of the delivering obstetrician. Mr Boylan added that a laceration may happen simply because of the “inherent risk” of the procedure.

Presiding Judge Justice Paul Coffey was informed that Jake’s legal representatives estimated the value of the case at somewhere between €60,000 and €70,000. However, due to the debate in relation to liability between the parties it had been agreed to accept a settlement offer of €45,000 birth injury compensation.

Justice Coffey was also informed that Jake’s parents were happy with the offer. Justice Coffey gave his approval for the settlement which he said was ‘fair and reasonable’.