Girl Compensated for Erb’s Palsy

An eleven year-old girl has been awarded a €250,000 settlement of compensation for birth injuries she sustained that resulted in a life-long disability.

In January 2004, Keelan Murray was delivered at the National Maternity Hospital. However, during her birth, it was noted that Keelan had shoulder dystocia – meaning her shoulders could not pass the pubic symphysis. This is considered an emergency condition, as it can lead to extensive nerve damage should excessive force be used to free the baby from the birth canal.

Regrettably, Keelan – who now lives in Newtownmountkennedy in Co. Wicklow – sustained such nerve damage. Though in some cases, the damage to the brachial plexus nerves can resolve as the child grows, in Keelan’s case they have not. She has been diagnosed with Erb’s palsy as a result of the damage, and now cannot use her right arm. Though her right hand would usually have been dominant, the birth injury has meant that she has had to reverse her natural inclination and write with her left hand.

In 2012, an operation was carried out to try and repair some of the nerve damage. However, this failed and Keelan still cannot use her arm. Acting on Keelan’s behalf, her mother – Sharon – made a claim for birth injury compensation against the National Maternity Hospital, alleging that excessive force was used to free Keelan, even though the diagnosis of shoulder dystocia had been made.

However, the hospital denied that they were liable for Keelan’s disability. Despite this, they made an offer of €250,000 in medical negligence compensation to Keelan, without admitting liability. The settlement then proceeded to the High Court for approval by a judge.

The case was heard earlier this month by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at Dublin’s High Court. There, the judge was told that Keelan was working to overcome her disability by engaging in sports. Judge Cross, wishing Keelan well for the future, proceeded to approve the settlement and closed the case.