European Medicines Agency Reviewing Use of Epilim

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is currently reviewing the use of Epilim to treat cases of Epilepsy following a number of report that have linked it to instances of birth defects and disability.

Epilim, a drug which Epilepsy Ireland has urged doctors not to prescribe for new child patients, is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency. Findings of the review are expected to result in new guidelines regarding its use. Epilim is the brand name in Ireland for sodium valproate,

In Ireland, according to official figures released by the Health Service Executive, 1,700 female patients between the ages of 16 and 44were prescribed Epilim during the calendar year 2016. Epilepsy Ireland, and other campaigners, have asked that females being treated with the drug be considered for alternative medications as a precautionary measure.

Issues experienced by Irish using the drug include, along with some reports of spontaneous abortion:

  • Foetal malformation
  • Tumours
  • Spina bifida
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Autisc illnesses
  • Issues with development

Report in France state over 4,000 infants were born with malformations since 1967, when the use of the drug on children in the womb began in that country. Dr Mahmoud Zureik, the scientific director of France’s ANSM, remarked that the results showed that the potential for experiencing significant birth defects was globally four times greater in children born to a woman suffering from epilepsy being  treated with Valproate (Epilim), when compared with woman females who were not treated with the drug.

The Fine Gael Minister for Health Simon Harris is due to meet with Irish mothers of children who are thought to have suffered following being prescribed the drug to treat their own epilepsy.

Epilim is currently being implicated in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). Lobby groups are of the belief that this figure might actually be closer to 400 in the 43 years that the drug has been prescribed for treatment of epilepsy in expectant mothers in Ireland.

Once the EMA review findings have been released it is likely that the HPRA will meet to review the use of Epilim in Ireland by doctors.


22% Increase in State Compensation Claims

A recent report by the State Claim Agency has revealed that there was an increase in the cost of compensation claims taken against the State, bringing the overall spend to approximately €2.2 billion during 2016.

This is a 22% increase on the previous year’s figures according to the agency which is responsible for legal actions taken against the State. The total number of case encountered during 2016 was 8,900 at the end of 2016, up from 6,000 in 2015.

Main Reasons for Rise in Compensation Paid Out by the State

  1. The Department of Education settled/paid out compensation claims for roughly €50 million.
  2. €1.9 billion of the €2.2 billion total compensation paid out was by Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
  3. Anyone who wins a legal action is now entitled to a higher pay out following a Supreme Court ruling to make up for falling returns on the cash.
  4. The Department of Justice and Defence paid out compensation claims worth €175 million compared to €27 million of claims for the the Department of Health.

As part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), the State Claims Agency was set up to address the continual increases in compensation claims being taken against the State.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General for  the NTMA commented saying “The number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”.


Making a Claim for a Hearing Loss at Work

To ensure you receive an appropriate settlement of compensation when you make a claim for a hearing loss at work, discuss your case with an injury solicitor.

When you make a claim for a hearing loss at work, there is a risk you will be undercompensated. Unlike most other physical injury compensation claims, it can be difficult to communicate to the Injuries Board the impact your injury has had on your quality of life and your emotional wellbeing.

If you do not tell the Injuries Board you are no longer able to listen to music or pursue hobbies in which hearing plays an important role, the assumption will not be made these factors affect you. Instead, the Injuries Board will assess your claim for a hearing loss at work solely on the information provided by your doctor.

Inasmuch as a work induced hearing loss is a substantial injury, the compensation for the injury alone is not going to be adequate to account for your loss of amenity and the deterioration in your quality of life. For example, you will likely not enjoy socialising so much, going to the cinema or even watching TV. These factors should be accounted for.

To ensure you receive an appropriate settlement of compensation when you make a claim for a hearing loss at work, it is recommended that you discuss you case and the consequences of your injury with an injury solicitor – or have somebody speak with an injury solicitor on your behalf if your hearing loss is total.

Before submitting your application for assessment, your injury solicitor will ask you to maintain a diary and record every time your hearing loss was a negative factor in your life. You will be surprised how often you are making new entries. The solicitor will then use this information to fully communicate to the Injuries Board the factors that should be considered in your claim for a hearing loss at work.


Report Reveals Most Common Clinical Incidents in Ireland

The State Claims Agency has published a report revealing the most common clinical incidents in Ireland and the cost of settling clinical negligence claims.

The report – National Clinical Incidents, Claims and Costs – covers the period between 2010 and 2014. Its purpose, according to lead author Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery, is to help improve patient safety by analysing national data on clinical incidents in Ireland, and studying the results in order to develop a “learning health system” that provides safer care.

More than 206,000 clinical incidents in Ireland were reported to the State Claims Agency over the five year period – not all of which were attributable to medical negligence, and therefore not all resulting in clinical negligence claims. The incidents were divided into five main categories – Medicine, Surgery, Maternity Services, Disability Services and Care of the Elderly.

In the Medicine category – the category in which most clinical incidents were reported – the most common adverse outcomes were attributable to a delay or failure to diagnose and treat (most often in the emergency room), the incorrect medicine or dosage of medicine being prescribed or administered, and serious soft tissue damage – typically caused by bed sores due to a lack of nursing care.

Among the most common surgical clinical incidents in Ireland, the delay or failure to treat was again the leading cause of adverse outcomes. However the high percentage of adverse outcomes attributable to faulty equipment and missing or misplaced clinical records was also a cause for concern – both in the Surgery category and the Maternity Services category.

The leading clinical incidents in Ireland in the Maternity Services category were post-partum haemorrhages and perineal tears, while medication issues and serious soft tissue damage dominated the clinical incidents in the Disability Services and Care of the Elderly categories. A further 66,000 medical incidents were reported to the State Claims Agency during the period being investigated that were not regarded to be of a clinical nature.

In relation to the number of clinical negligence claims made during the period and the cost of settling them, the figures quoted in the report (2,873 claims and €288 million in settlement costs) are misleading as they included claims made during the period not settled during the period, and pre-2010 claims settled between 2010 and 2014. They were also inflated during 2012 by DePuy hip replacement claims, the Lourdes Redress scheme, and by the volume of claims made for unnecessary symphysiotomy procedures.


Unprotected Chemical Exposure Claims against the Defence Forces

New unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces, made by a former Baldonnel-based air corps mechanic, have been published in the Journal.

Working conditions at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have been the subject of investigation since unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces were made in 2015 and 2016 by former air corps personnel, and as a result of a HSA inspection in October last year.

The current investigation is looking into claims that servicemen were exposed to high levels of dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks. The new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces are potentially more serious.

According to the Journal, a “whistle-blower” has alleged air corps servicemen were not protected against exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals at Baldonnel, and as a result at least twenty former servicemen have died due to neurological and cancer-related illnesses.

The former air corps mechanic also believes that the partners of personnel based at the aerodrome have suffered fertility issues, and that their children have been born with birth defects or development issues. Five children have allegedly died due to their parents´ exposure to toxic chemicals and, the “whistle-blower” claims, many more are living with life-changing illnesses.

The Journal reports the representative association for air corps personnel – PDFORRA – has been attempting to get attitudes towards health and safety changed for many years. The association´s general secretary Gerry Rooney told the Journal: “There’s a tendency in military organisations to focus on carrying out the operation at all costs. It´s fairly clear there was a problem with chemicals and their use.”

Attempts to get comments from the Defence Forces and Department of Defence about the new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces were unsuccessful, but Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh was heavily critical of junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe. He told the Journal that previous chemical exposure claims had fallen on deaf ears, despite Minister Kehoe stating the health and wellbeing of members of the Defence Forces are a priority for him.


Claims for Birth Defects due to taking Epilim

Claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant have been made in France on behalf of up to 4,100 children with foetal valproate syndrome.

Epilim is the trade name of an anti-epilepsy drug that uses the active ingredient sodium valproate to control electrical activity in the brain. Introduced in France in 1967, Epilim was passed for use in Ireland in 1983, and is now also often prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and chronic pain.

At the time it was introduced into Ireland, claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant were being investigated in France. It was alleged that the sodium valproate entered the bloodstream as valproic acid, which caused foetal congenital and development issues.

The evidence of birth defects due to taking Epilim was considered inconclusive, and the drug continued to be prescribed to pregnant mothers. It was only in 2006 that the manufacturers of the drug – Sanofi – warned that sodium valproate may have adverse effects and advised the medical profession to advise pregnant mothers of the potential risks.

Research conducted several years later by France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – found the majority of doctors and pharmacists were unaware of the risks associated with Epilim. The research prompted the inspectorate to conduct a small scale study in the Rhone-Alpes region last year, where a much higher than expected rate of birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant was discovered.

France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the issue and researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken Epilim during their pregnancies. ANSM identified up to 4,100 children suffering from foetal valproate syndrome and discovered hundreds of Epilim-related stillbirths.

ANSM´s study has resulted in the families of those affected by the adverse effects of sodium valproate to form a class action in order to jointly make claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim. The families claim that Sanofi did not do enough to adequately inform the medical profession of the risks associate with the drug. It also claims the drug manufacturer failed to put adequate warning on its packaging.

In Ireland, the Disability Federation has called on the government to conduct an audit of children diagnose with foetal valproate syndrome. The organisation claims the scale of the problem in Ireland should be identified in order that adequate support measures are provided for families. If a member of your family has been affected by foetal valproate syndrome, and you would like to know more about claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant, you should speak with a solicitor.


Claim for Slipping on Wet Leaves at Work Resolved in Court

A claim for slipping on wet leaves at work has been resolved at the Circuit Civil Court with the award of €25,879 injury compensation to a kitchen assistant.

On 19th November 2012, Ann Groves (58) was walking along a path towards the back entrance of the Baltinglass Hospital when she slipped on wet leaves and injured her ankle. Ann – who worked at the hospital as a kitchen assistant – was able to reduce the swelling with an ice pack and later attended her GP, who strapped Ann´s ankle for support after diagnosing a soft tissue injury.

Unfortunately the pain from the ankle injury continued. Unable to sleep, walk or stand for long periods, Ann sought medical attention from a number of specialists. She underwent sessions of physiotherapy and acupuncture before having a spinal cord stimulated surgically implanted in 2014; which although it helped with the pain, did not resolve the problem completely.

On her solicitor´s advice, Ann made a claim for slipping on wet leaves at work against her employer – the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE denied responsibility for Ann´s injury at work, contesting the claim on the grounds that a sage cleaning system was in place at the hospital, and that Ann had contributed to her accident and subsequent injury due to her own lack of care.

With no agreement on liability, the Injuries Board issued Ann with an authorisation to pursue her claim for slipping on wet leaves at work through the courts. The case was heard earlier this week by Judge Barry Hickson at the Circuit Civil Court, who was told that Ann´s accident had occurred early on a Monday morning after a particularly stormy weekend.

The judge found in Ann´s favour and dismissed the HSE´s claims of contributory negligence after hearing evidence from a maintenance engineer who testified that the maintenance team at the hospital started work after the kitchen assistants. The judge awarded Ann €25,879 compensation in settlement of her claim for slipping on wet leaves at work.


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.


Court Awards €153,000 Compensation for a Workplace Manual Lifting Injury

A former picker at a Dublin distribution centre has been awarded €153,150 compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury by a judge at the High Court.

Forty-seven year old Slovakian, Salmovir Spes, made his workplace manual lifting injury claim after hurting his back while working at the Windcanton distribution centre in Blanchardstown, Dublin. Salmovir´s job at the distribution centre was to manually lift or “pick” goods from pallets and load the goods onto trolleys for transportation to twenty-four Supervalu supermarkets in the area.

Salmovir´s injury occurred on October 29th 2011 as he was lifting trays of yoghurts from a pallet. As he turned to place the yoghurts onto a trolley, Salmovir felt a sharp pain in his back. Although he went home immediately to rest his back, and then sought prompt medical attention, Salmovir was unable to return to work at the distribution centre. He remained on sick leave until 2014 when he was made redundant.

Salmovir claimed compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury, but Windcanton withheld their consent for the Injuries Board to conduct an assessment. Salmovir was subsequently issued with an authorisation to pursue compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury through the courts, and his case was heard recently at the High Court by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

At the hearing, Judge Barr heard that Salmovir was set a “pick rate” of 1,200 picks per seven-and-a-half hour shift. It was alleged by Salmovir that he had not been trained in the correct way of manually lifting goods in a safe way to meet his target, and that he was especially selected for heavy manual lifting because of his nationality.

The defence argued that Salmovir had not been treated differently than any other employee, that adequate training was provided and that workers were given refresher courses at regular intervals. It was suggested that Salmovir´s injury had been caused by his own negligence due to taking a short cut in the correct procedures.

Judge Barr found in Salmovir´s favour – commenting he was satisfied that Salmovir´s back injury was attributable to a lack of adequate training, unreasonably high pick rates and being forced to take short cuts to meet his target. The judge said there was no evidence to support Salmovir´s allegations of discrimination or the defence´s argument that Salmovir had contributed to his injury through his own lack of care.

The judge awarded Salmovir €153,150 compensation for a workplace manual lifting injury, saying he was satisfied that the plaintiff had suffered a significant injury to his lower back due to his employer´s negligence that not only rendered him “permanently disabled in the work aspects of his life”, but also continued to cause him pain in his day-to-day domestic activities.


Settlement of Brain Injury Claim for Compensation Approved in Court

A settlement of a brain injury claim for compensation has been approved in the High Court in favour of a twenty-five year old man from County Longford.

On 27th January 2009, Francis Smith from Edgeworthstown in County Longford was driving along a local road when he had to manoeuvre out of the way of a car heading directly towards him. As Francis took evasive action to avoid a collision with the car, he crashed into the back of a council lorry that was parked ahead of some roadworks.

Francis, who was eighteen years of age at the time and who held full-time employment at a local factory, sustained devastating brain damage in the accident. As a result of his injuries, Francis has cognitive and physical issues. He is no longer able to work or live independently, and is cared for at the family home by his mother, Martina Dempsey.

On Francis´ behalf, Martina made a brain injury claim for compensation against Longford County Council. She alleged in her claim that the council had been negligent by failing to give adequate warning of the roadworks by means of bollards or warning signs, and that there was no flagman in place to warn oncoming traffic of the obstruction in the road.

While requesting a settlement of a brain injury claim for compensation, Martina alleged that the lorry into which Francis had crashed was parked in such a way that it protruded extensively into the road. Due to the proximity of the roadworks to a bend in the road, the lorry, it was claimed, was a danger to other road users.

Longford County Council denied its liability for Francis´ brain injuries. The council counter-claimed that Francis had significantly contributed to the cause of the accident by his own contributory negligence and had been driving too fast into the bend in the road. However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that a €750,000 settlement of the brain injury claim for compensation had been agreed between the two parties.

After noting that the settlement of the brain injury claim for compensation represented 25% of the full value of the claim, Judge Cross approved the settlement. The judge commented in his closing remarks that the settlement was a good one in the circumstances and he wished Francis all the best for the future.


Claim against Mother for Injuries in a Car Crash Resolved at Court

A teenage girl´s claim against her mother for injuries in a car crash has been resolved at court with the approval of a €1.3 million compensation settlement.

On 26th November 2005, Beth Cullen (then just six years of age) was badly injured in a car crash on the dangerous “Nine Bends” stretch of the N11 near Ballinameesda. As a consequence of the car crash, Beth – from Kilmacanogue in County Wicklow – lost the use of her left eye, became deaf in her left ear and also lost her sense of smell.

On his daughter´s behalf, William Cullen made a compensation claim against her mother – Caroline Barrett – who had been driving the family car when the car crash happened and who was considered responsible for causing the accident.

In the claim against the mother for injuries in a car crash it was alleged that Barrett had failed to steer, stop, swerve or manage the car prior to the accident. It was also alleged that, through her actions, Barrett failed to have any or any adequate regard for the safety of her daughter.

Liability was conceded by Barrett´s insurance company, and a €1.3 million settlement of the claim against the mother for injuries in a car crash was negotiated. As the legal action had been taken on behalf of a minor, the negotiated settlement had to be approved at the High Court to ensure it was in Beth´s best interests.

The approval hearing took place at the beginning of last week before Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross heard about the circumstances of the accident and the injuries that Beth had sustained. After being told that Beth was doing well at school despite her reduced senses of sight and hearing, Judge Cross approved the settlement and wished Beth well for the future.


Compensation Awards made by the High Court under Attack

A representative of the motor insurance industry has claimed that judges need educating about who pays for compensation awards made by the High Court.

The attack on compensation awards made by the High Court was made by Conor Faughan from AA Ireland, who was responding to the news that the average value of High Court personal injury settlements had increased from €227,000 in 2013 to €304,000 last year.

Mr Faughan said there was a need for judges to be educated so that they would understand that compensation awards made by the High Court are paid for by the country´s two million drivers. Although not strictly true (few road traffic accident claims are resolved in the High Court), Mr Faughan pointed out that the average value of assessments conducted by the Injuries Board had remained steady during the same period at around €22,600.

It has also been suggested that the increase in the average value of compensation awards made by the High Court could be due to changes made under the Courts and Civil Law Act 2013, which saw the minimum potential compensation level at which cases would be heard by the High Court from €38,092 to €60,000. Some observers believe that High Court judges are awarding a minimum compensation settlement of €60,000 when – prior to the increase – they would have awarded less.

Dorothea Dowling – founding chairperson of the Injuries Board, and the chair of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board – believes that plaintiffs are shunning Injuries Board assessments for higher compensation awards made by the High Court. Ms Dowling told the Independent: “The Department of Justice was forewarned well in advance. This is what happens when you increase the limits of the lower courts – it sends out the message that €38,000 is small money.”

Whereas Ms Dowling has a point, it is not a point that everybody shares. Earlier this year (In McGarry v McGarry) Mr Justice Bernard Barton criticised the government for not updating the injury compensation values published in the Book of Quantum since 2004. During the case, Judge Barton acknowledged that for all practical purposes the Book of Quantum was being ignored by the courts because it was so out of date and commented “it is unquestionably in the interests of the proper administration of justice that the Book be reviewed and be kept updated to properly reflect [compensation awards made by the High Court]”.


Man Settles Claim for a Brain Injury due to a Fall from a Ladder

A man who suffered life-changing injuries in uncertain circumstances has settled his claim for a brain injury due to a fall from a ladder.

On 22nd March 2011, Michael Brady (47) from Monasterevin in County Kildare had just started working for Philip Brady Building Contractors Ltd in Naas, when he was asked to clean some ivy from a gutter. Michael was working with his father that day – Philip Brady Senior (related to the owner of the company, but not the owner) – who left his son working at the top of a 16-foot ladder.

On Philip Brady´s return, Michael was found lying on the ground with the ladder still in position. Michael was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency brain surgery. He has subsequently had to undergo neurosurgery and procedures to reconstruct his face. Due to his accident, Michael now has problems with his vision and needs full-time support for his daily living.

As Michael was not of a mental capacity to represent himself, a claim for a brain injury due to a fall from a ladder was made on his behalf by his father. Philip Brady Senior alleged that the ladder that had been provided for Michael was inadequate for the job, and that there had been a failure to provide appropriate support and safeguards to protect against a fall while the ladder was in use.

The construction company denied liability for Michael´s accident and prepared a full defence against the claim for a brain injury due to a fall from a ladder. However, shortly before a scheduled hearing was about to commence, the High Court was told that the claim had been settled for €1.5 million. After hearing the few details that are known about Michael´s accident, the settlement of the claim was approved and the hearing closed.


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.”


Claim for the Failure to Treat Meningitis Resolved in Court

A young boy´s claim for the failure to treat meningitis has been resolved in court with the approval of a €3.7 million interim settlement of compensation.

Matthew McGrath was admitted to Wexford General Hospital on 27th May 2004 at the age of 17 months after it was noticed that he was uncharacteristically drowsy and vomiting fluids. Matthew was diagnosed with Haemophilus Influenza Type B – which is known to lead on to meningitis – and he should have been administered antibiotics.

Overnight, Matthew´s condition deteriorated and he was identified as being in shock. Despite medical guidelines recommending against it when a patient is in shock, Matthew underwent a lumbar puncture procedure to confirm suspected meningitis – due to which a compression of the spinal cord took place and Matthew is now permanently paralysed.

Due to the failure to administer antibiotics when Matthew was first admitted to the hospital, and the subsequent inappropriate lumbar puncture, Matthew cannot move his arms or legs and can only breathe through a ventilator. He spent the next two years of his life in hospital until his parents were eventually allowed to care for their son at home.

Through his mother – Cathy McGrath of Gorey in County Wexford – Matthew made a claim for the failure to treat meningitis against the HSE – alleging that, if he had been treated with antibiotics and given fluids at the time of his admission into Wexford General Hospital, he would not have suffered such devastating injuries.

After an investigation into the claim for the failure to treat meningitis, the HSE admitted liability and issued an apology to Matthew´s parents. An interim compensation settlement of €3.7 million was agreed, but first had to be approved by a judge before payment could be made.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, the circumstances of Matthew´s devastating and unnecessary injuries were related to Mr Justice Matthew Cross. Judge Cross approved the settlement, and adjourned the claim for the failure to treat meningitis for five years in order that reports into Matthew´s future needs can be conducted.


Guidelines Could Prevent More Syntocinon Birth Injury Claims

The State Claims Agency has said that a consistent set of guidelines should be compiled for birth-inducing drugs to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims.

Syntocinon is the brand name in Ireland of oxytocin – a synthetic drug that is frequently used in maternity wards to induce labour and accelerate contractions. The benefits of Syntocinon are that the drug reduces the time spent in labour, prevents excessive bleeding and helps the womb to contract after childbirth.

However, when Syntocinon is administered, both mother and child need careful monitoring to observe any signs of an adverse reaction or foetal distress. Oxytocin is one of the top ten “high-alert medications” in hospitals, and the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital has been attributed to the lack of adequate monitoring.

Children who survive the accelerated contractions have been known to suffer brain damage, and among a series of recent Syntocinon birth injury claims was one in February this year, in which an interim settlement of birth injury compensation amounting to €2.32 million was approved by the High Court.

The State Claims Agency – the authority that pays out when Syntocinon birth injury claims are resolved – recently conducted a study into the use of oxytocin in Irish hospitals, which showed that there is a lack of consistency in how the drug is administered and how the health of mothers and their babies is monitored.

The report revealed that staff at one maternity unit had no guidance on the drug´s use and that at another staff had to refer to a checklist. Thirteen hospitals had similar guidelines – although not entirely consistent, five hospitals had introduced protocols, three had introduced procedures and six relied on policies. Two of the hospitals provided no guidance at all on the monitoring of mothers and babies, and one failed to advise nursing staff on the dosage of oxytocin that should be administered.

Mary Godfrey – the clinical risk advisor at the State Claims Agency – said that the results of the survey were alarming and called for a consistent set of guidelines to be compiled for all birth-inducing drugs to improve outcomes for mothers and babies, and to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims being made against the state.

However Ms Godfrey failed to comment on an important area of the report which revealed “No service obtains explicit written consent from women prior to starting them on the drug.” Informed consent is a vital issue for the State Claims Agency to address if it genuinely wishes to prevent more Syntocinon birth injury claims.


HSE Found Liable in Hydrocephalus Brain Injury Claim

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been found liable in a hydrocephalus brain injury claim after a hearing at the High Court.

Ava Kiernan started displaying the symptoms of hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”) when she was just a few months old. In April 2008 – when she was three months old – Ave was examined by a public health nurse, who failed to act on her mother´s concerns or arrange a follow-up examination.

Hydrocephalus is caused by spinal fluid “pooling” in the skull because it has failed to drain from the brain. It is most commonly identified in children under the age of one year by a rapid expansion of the head´s circumference or “soft spot” bulges appearing around the skull.

A follow-up examination would have identified a rapid growth in the size of Ava´s head, but her skull was not measured again until September 2008, when the measurement – which would have been conducted in time to prevent Ava from suffering brain damage – was performed incorrectly.

Due to the nurse´s failure to act and the subsequent errors in the measurement of Ava´s head, the pressure from the spinal fluid resulted in Ava suffering brain damage. She now suffers from physical and mental disabilities and, on her behalf, Ava´s mother – Ruth Kiernan from Duleek in County Meath – made a hydrocephalus brain injury claim for compensation against the HSE.

The hydrocephalus brain injury claim was contested by the HSE, and the case went to the High Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross found in Ava´s favour after a hearing that lasted three weeks. He deduced that if Ava had been recalled for a second examination four weeks after the April head measurement, or the subsequent September measurement of her head in September had been performed correctly, Ava´s hydrocephalus would have been identified.

Judge Cross continued to say that Ava´s hydrocephalus could have been diagnosed and treated before it resulted in permanent brain damage where it not for the public health nurse´s failure to act on Ruth´s concerns and the medical negligence in the second measurement. The judge adjourned the hydrocephalus brain injury claim so that an assessment can be conducted to determine Ava´s future needs and an appropriate damages settlement.


Judge Awards Compensation for a Pedestrian Hit by Car

A judge at the High Court in Limerick has awarded €177,630 compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car to a man who had a similar accident once before.

On March 5th 2010, Edmund Quinlan (72) of Garryspillane in County Limerick was walking from his home to the local pub for a drink and a game of cards with his friends, when he was hit and knocked down by a car whose driver had failed to see him due to the low sun.

Edmund was taken to hospital with extensive leg fractures and spent ten weeks with his leg placed in balanced suspension. His recovery was especially complicated as he had broken the same leg six years previously and the bone supporting a metal plate that had been inserted was shattered in the accident.

On his discharge from hospital, Edmund sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car. Full liability for Edmund´s injuries was disputed by the driver that hit him, who claimed that Edmund had been drinking prior to the accident and that his intoxicated state contributed to his unsteadiness as he was walking along the road.

With issues over liability, the Injuries Board issued an authorisation for Edmund´s case to be heard in court. However, the day before the hearing was scheduled to get underway at the High Court in Limerick, the allegations of Edmund having been drinking were withdrawn and the case was presented to Mr Justice Paul McDermott for the assessment of damages only.

At the hearing, Judge McDermott heard from Edmund´s surgeon – Dr Thomas Burke – that his patient had made a near-miraculous recovery from his leg injuries, but due to his increasing frailty he now resided in a nursing home. The judge said that Dr Burke should be proud of what he had achieved in his treatment of Edmund, who himself had been very stoical in dealing with the injuries he had sustained.

The judge awarded Edmund €177,630 compensation for a pedestrian hit by a car, which comprised of €115,000 general damages for his injury and suffering, and €62,630 special damages to pay for Edmund´s medical and nursing home costs.


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.


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.


Government Announces New Symphysiotomy Redress Scheme

The government has announced a new symphysiotomy redress scheme to compensate women who underwent symphysiotomy and pubiotomy procedures between the 1940s and 1980s.

Almost a year after the government´s U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations for women who had undergone symphysiotomies and pubiotomies during childbirth, a new redress scheme has been announced for the estimated 350 survivors of the procedures.

The new symphysiotomy redress scheme consists of a three-tier compensation package which will pay damages to the survivors depending on the level of injury they sustained:

  • Women who can demonstrate that they underwent a symphysiotomy are entitled to recover €50,000.
  • Women who suffered significant disability as the result of a symphysiotomy will be able to claim €100,000
  • Women who underwent a symphysiotomy after giving birth by Caesarean Section are entitled to €150,000

Former High Court Judge Maureen Harding-Clark has been appointed to assess each claim and, to qualify for the new symphysiotomy redress scheme, victims have to apply before Friday 5th December (In exceptional circumstances, Judge Harding can extend the deadline by a further 20 working days).

Once a claim for symphysiotomy compensation is made, the women have twenty days to accept it; however, under the new symphysiotomy scheme, in order to receive the payment, the claimant must give up any High Court action that is in progress.

Currently there are more than 150 claims for symphysiotomy compensation before the High Court and, according to Marie O’Connor – chairwoman of Survivors of Symphysiotomy group – two dates for High Court hearings have already been fixed.

Ms O´Connor is not happy with the new symphysiotomy redress scheme and claims that the short time limit makes it “impossible for women to seek independent advice and to make a considered decision”. She recommends that the victims of symphysiotomy speak with a solicitor, apply for the maximum amount they entitled to under the redress scheme and continue with their legal action.

Mark Kelly – Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties – also expressed his displeasure with the proposals for symphysiotomy compensation. He said that the redress scheme falls short of what is required under Ireland´s human rights obligations.

Following a complaint by the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group to a UN Human Rights Committee earlier this year, Mr Kelly said the committee recommended that the “perpetrators of symphysiotomy” should be brought to justice and the victims should receive “fair and adequate compensation and rehabilitation on an individual basis”.

Mr Kelly alleges that the new symphysiotomy redress scheme fails to meet the criteria of the UN Human Rights Committee on two counts – that it does not address compensation on an individual basis, and that payments made under the redress scheme are made without admission of liability by the state.


Man Awarded Injury Compensation for Bin Lorry Accident

A man from County Wicklow, who suffered a severe brain injury when being run over by a Dublin City refuse truck, has been awarded almost €5 million injury compensation for a bin lorry accident.

Padraig Hearns (39) from Hollywood in County Wicklow had been enjoying a night out in Dublin´s Temple Bar area in April 2007, when he was assaulted in Sycamore Street. Dazed and confused, Padraig was lying on the street when he was run over by a bin lorry operated by Dublin City Council.

As a result of the bin lorry accident, Padraig – a former Mr. Ireland who had been working as an air steward for British Airways – suffered a fractured skull and severe injuries to his arm and eye. He remained in hospital recovering from his injuries for several months – the first week spent in an induced coma.

Due to the brain injury sustained in the accident, Padraig now lives at home – being cared for by his parents and siblings. He will never be able to live independently again nor be able to work in any meaningful employment.

On Padraig´s behalf, his parents made a claim for injury compensation for the bin lorry accident against Dublin City Council. The Council denied their liability for Padraig´s injuries on the grounds that it was not the operators of the bin lorry that were to blame for Padraig lying on the floor in front of the refuse truck.

However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart found in Padraig´s favour. The judge noted that Dublin City Council had ignored its own by-laws not to collect commercial waste in the Temple Bar area between 12:00pm and 6:00pm – implemented three months before the accident.

Judge Peart said “It makes complete sense from a public safety point of view that these large refuse trucks would not be permitted to try and negotiate their way through an area such as the narrow and crowded streets of Temple Bar when so many people are present”.

He added that the local authority had a duty of care to have a man outside of the refuse truck when it moved off to ensure that it was safe to do so. In the judge´s opinion, Dublin City Council had breached that duty of care by failing to notice Padraig lying in the street beneath the wheels of the lorry.

Mr Justice Michael Peart awarded Padraig €4,885,888 injury compensation for the bin lorry accident, which included €350,000 for pain and suffering, €266,341 for loss of earnings, €155,230 for care costs to date and €3,485,000 for future care costs. The judge added that he would be awarding legal costs in favour of Padraig as well. The proceedings were adjourned for mention until October 8th.


Woman Allowed to Claim for Adverse Reaction to Steroids

A Cork woman has been granted permission to pursue her claim for an adverse reaction to steroids against the pharmaceutical company Pfizer after a High Court hearing.

Lorna Savage (43) from Cobh in County Cork started taking the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 when it was prescribed for her by her GP Dr. Michael Madigan and her consultant Dr. MG Molloy to treat vasculitis – a condition which damages blood vessels and causes a rash.

After using the steroid, Lorna developed a more serious condition – Avascular Necrosis – which results in the interruption of the blood supply causing bone tissue to die and the bone to collapse. By 2001, Lorna had to have both knees and a hip joint replaced. She is now confined to a wheelchair and relies on morphine to manage the continual pain she suffers.

Having sought legal advice, Lorna made a claim for the adverse reaction to the steroids; alleging that its manufacturer – Pfizer – had failed to provide adequate warning in the literature accompanying the tablets that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and that the company had failed to warn her about drinking alcohol when taking the steroid.

Lorna also made a claim for an adverse reaction to steroids against the estate of Dr Madigan (who died in 1999) and the Southern Health Board – who employed Dr Molloy at the Cork University Hospital – alleging that both doctors were negligent in prescribing the treatment for her, had failed to investigate her symptoms appropriately or suspect that she was developing Avascular Necrosis.

All three defendants denied their liability for Lorna´s adverse reaction and, in a pretrial motion, lawyers representing Pfizer attempted to get Lorna´s claim for an adverse reaction to steroids thrown out on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim.

However, at the High Court, Mr Justice George Birmingham dismissed the application to strike out Lorna´s action – finding that the time lapse was excusable because Lorna had undergone multiple surgeries recently and had found it impossible to brief her solicitors. Judge Birmingham also noted that Avascular Necrosis is a well-established but rare side effect of Deltacortril and he said the case would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.


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.


Meningitis Medical Negligence Claim Resolved at Court

A County Wicklow teenager´s meningitis medical negligence claim for compensation has been resolved after a High Court hearing at which her settlement of compensation was approved.

Laura Kavanagh (18) from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow had fallen ill on 29 January 1998 at the age of thirteen months with a high temperature and severe fatigue. Her mother – Simone – had telephoned the surgery of Dr Frank Malone and Dr Paul Crean in Greystones in County Wicklow to communicate her daughter´s condition and had been told to keep an eye out for a rash.

Several hours later, Laura´s condition had deteriorated and Simone Kavanagh rang the surgery again – on this occasion speaking with Dr Crean, who said he would make a house call after surgery due to Simone not having transport available.

Three and a half hours later, Dr Crean arrived at the Kavanagh´s home and diagnosed a bowel infection. He left two suppositories and told Simone to call him back in the morning if Laura´s condition had not improved. The following day, Simone called the surgery requesting a home visit, but later cancelled the call as Laura seemed to be looking better.

However, the next morning Laura once again was very ill, and Simone was able to get an on-call doctor to visit straight away. He immediately admitted Laura to hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe meningitis.

As a result of the illness, Laura lost her hearing, and through her mother she made a meningitis medical negligence claim for compensation against Drs Malone and Crean, alleging that Dr Crean had failed to diagnose meningitis and that there had been a failure to attend Laura in good time, ensure proper care or any continuity of care.

The two doctors denied Laura´s meningitis medical negligence claim, however agreed a €5 million settlement of meningitis medical negligence compensation without admission of liability.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that if Laura had been admitted to hospital when Dr Crean misdiagnosed her condition as a bowel infection, it was likely that Laura would not have lost her hearing.

The judge was also told that after Laura lost her hearing, she learned to communicate through sign language and lip reading – but has a moderate intellectual disability. Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of Laura´s meningitis medical negligence claim, saying that it would never give Laura the life she was meant to have.


Judge Approves Bus Accident Serious Injury Compensation

A Spanish student´s €9 million settlement of bus accident serious injury compensation has been approved by a judge after a hearing at the High Court.

On 4th February 2009, Carlos Tesch – who was then twelve years of age – was walking along Herbert Road in Bray, County Wicklow, with a group of friends, when he dashed out into the road in order to avoid other youths who had allegedly verbally threatened the young Spaniard and his friends previously.

As Carlos ran into the road, he was hit by a bus coming up from behind him, and Carlos suffered severe head injuries – including a fracture to the base of his skull – which has left him unable to walk or speak and reliant on his parents – Hans and Mar Tesch – for his primary care.

Through his father, Carlos made a claim for bus accident serious injury compensation against Dublin Bus. Dublin Bus denied its responsibility for Carlos´ injuries, stating that the driver had been travelling at 40Km/h in a 50 Km/h zone and that he could not have foreseen a child running out into the road.

An earlier High Court hearing had determined that Dublin Bus should be considered 70 percent liable for Carlos´ injuries because the driver had been distracted by a passenger shortly before the accident, and – after the decision had been upheld by the Supreme Court – the case returned to the High Court for the assessment of damages.

At the High Court, the circumstances of Carlos´ accident with the bus were related to Ms Justice Mary Irvine, who also heard how Hans Tesch had given up his managerial position to care full-time for his son and has twice taken him to China for stem cell treatment.

The judge was also told how Carlos attends the Spanish Institute during school hours and – approving the €9 million settlement of bus accident serious injury compensation – Ms Justice Mary Irvine said she was fully aware of what parents had to give up to maximise the situation for their children in cases of such catastrophic injuries.


Court Resolves Injury Claim for Fall from Roof at Work

The High Court has approved the settlement of an injury claim for a fall from a roof at work, in favour of a County Wicklow man who suffered devastating brain injuries in the accident.

Paul O’Brien (50) of Glenealy, County Wicklow, was on the first day of a roofing contract on 18th July 2012, when he went to descend from the roof of the house in Bray as it had started to rain. As he attempted to get onto the ladder that was leant up against the side of the house, the ladder slipped on the timber decking floor it had been placed upon, and Paul fell to the ground.

Paul suffered a significant head injury in the accident, and now has limited short-term memory which will prevent him from ever working again. Through his wife – Sandra O´Brien – Paul made an injury claim for a fall from a roof at work against his employer – Sean Lyons of Clondalkin, Dublin – alleging that Lyons failed to provide a safe place of work or suitable scaffolding and ladders to enable him to carry out his work safely.

It was also claimed that the ladder that was provided to descend from the roof was unsafe and unfit for that purpose – it had not been fastened to the property on which Paul was working – and the combination of an alleged unsuitable ladder and the wet timber decking on which it had been placed presented a treacherous means of exit from the roof.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that – prior to being given this temporary roofing contract – Paul had been unemployed for a number of years following the collapse of the construction industry in Ireland. She also heard that Sandra O´Brien had taken a two-year sabbatical from her job to care for her husband; but an out-of-court settlement of Paul´s injury claim for a fall from a roof at work had been agreed amounting to €1.5 million.

Judge Irvine approved the settlement, stating that it was a good one when taking into account that Paul´s contributory negligence may have been a factor had the case gone to court. She added that she sympathised with the position of the O’Brien family and then closed the hearing.


Delayed Birth Injury Compensation Approved in Court

A €4 million settlement of delayed birth injury compensation has been approved in favour of a thirteen year old girl at the High Court in Dublin.

Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin in November 2000 after her mother – Fiona – had arrived at the hospital very early in the morning complaining of having irregular contractions.

A CTG trace was performed on the expectant mother and – according to Katie´s solicitor – the trace produced abnormal readings that indicated Katie was being starved of oxygen in the womb. However, it was nearly an hour and a half before an emergency Caesarean Section was organised and, when Katie was born, she had suffered a cardiac arrest and displayed no signs of life.

The medical team were able to resuscitate Katie, but she had suffered severe brain damage due to a lack of oxygen prior to her delivery which has left her requiring constant care for the rest of her life.

Katie made a claim for delayed birth injury compensation through her mother against the Coombe Hospital – which denied its liability for her injuries, and argued that Katie was starved of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital, and there was nothing that could have been done to prevent her brain damage.

However, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was informed that a €4 million settlement of compensation for a delayed birth injury had been negotiated without admission of liability from the hospital, and that the case was before her for approval of the settlement.

The judge was told the circumstances of Katie´s brain damage – and that the hospital had prepared a full defence against the claim – before approving the settlement and commenting that it was a good one considering that the Coombe Hospital had contested the claim.


Car Crash Passenger Injury Compensation Approved in Court

A settlement of car crash passenger injury compensation, with a value of €10 million, has been approved by a High Court judge after a hearing in Dublin.

Lydia Branley (28) from Kinlough in Country Leitrim sustained devastating injuries in September 2010, when a car she was travelling in as a passenger left the N4 slip road  at Ballisodare at a speed of 150km/hour, crashed through two road barriers, hit a pole and ended upside down in a stream.

The driver – Martin Kearney from Balinoo in County Mayo – and a second male passenger were thrown clear from the vehicle as it crashed; but Lydia – who had been wearing a seatbelt – had to be cut from the wreckage of the BMW Coupe and was taken unconscious to Sligo General Hospital.

Lydia was later transferred to the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, where she remained in a coma for nine months. When she came out of the coma, Lydia discovered that she had lost the use of her arms and legs and the ability to communicate by speech.

Kearney – who had just got his license back after a previous five-year driving ban – was convicted for dangerous driving causing serious harm, and in June 2012 given a six-year jail sentence and banned from driving for twenty years.

Through her father, Lydia made a car crash passenger injury compensation claim against Martin Kearney and his father Michael Kearney in his capacity as owner of the car. Liability was accepted and a negotiated compensation settlement of €10 million was agreed.

Because of Lydia´s condition, the settlement of car crash passenger injury compensation had to be approved by a judge and, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told the circumstances of Lydia´s injuries and how Lydia will require full-time care for the rest of her life.

Describing the €10 million compensation settlement as “excellent” as she approved it, the judge said “It does not give back Lydia her life. Nothing will, but it will provide her with the best care and hopefully bring back a degree of normality.”


New Symphysiotomy Compensation Plan Announced

The Government has proposed a new symphysiotomy compensation plan after its U-turn on extending the Statute of Limitations for women who underwent the procedure between the 1940s and 1980s.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly announced in a press conference that Judge Yvonne Murphy has been asked to examine the feasibility of a compensation scheme for women who underwent the controversial childbirth procedure, and who have been left with permanent injuries such as incontinence, difficulty with walking and chronic pain.

Judge Murphy has been asked to compile a series of compensation options for review in February 2014, to “assist in finding closure” for the women affected by the operation. Dr Reilly said that the Government would contribute to an ex gratia scheme if that is the symphysiotomy compensation plan recommended, and it is understood that Judge Murphy will be meeting with insurance companies to explore whether they would contribute towards such a scheme.

Originally Dr Reilly had said he would not oppose a private members bill introduced into the Dáil by Sinn Féin’s Health Spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin to allow a one-year window for the affected women to make claims for symphysiotomy compensation; however the Government were then told that such a move could result in a legal challenge by the insurance companies who would have been liable for compensating the women.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised plans to keep the statute of limitations in place. He said “The type of scheme outlined in the terms of reference offers the women no prospect of adequate compensation for what was so barbarically done to them nor the choice to pursue their rights in the courts.”

However Chairman of the support group Survivors of Symphysiotomy Ltd – Tom Moran – welcomed the announcement of a new symphysiotomy compensation plan. His comment was “We welcome this decision to appoint the judge and we hope it leads to women finally being given a chance of some kind of closure.”