“Heroic” Teenager Compensated for Birth Injuries

The High Court of Dublin has approved a final settlement of birth injury compensation for a teenage girl who sustained severe brain damage after she was deprived of oxygen at birth.

On the 11th October 1999, Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital via an emergency Caesarean Section. However, her mother alleges that there was an unnecessary delay of eighty minutes in Mary’s delivery, as a miscommunication between staff meant that there was difficulty in locating a paediatrician. During this time, Mary was deprived of oxygen in utero and now suffers from cerebral palsy.

Acting on her daughter’s behalf, Maura Malee – of Swinford in Co. Mayo – made a claim for delayed delivery resulting in birth injury compensation against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executives. In the claim, she alleges that despite the fact Mary had been diagnosed with foetal distress syndrome, the hospital failed to deliver her in a timely manner due to the lack of paediatrician.

In March 2014, Mary was offered an interim settlement of compensation and the case was subsequently adjourned for two years whilst a new system of periodic settlements was introduced in Ireland. However, no such change came and earlier this month the Malee family returned to the High Court for the approval of a €5.56 settlement of compensation.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who oversaw the High Court hearing, heard from May that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”. Mary also detailed her dream of becoming a spokesperson for the disabled, and as he described Mary’s ability to overcome the challenges presented to her as “heroic”, Judge Kelly approved the settlement.

After the announcement of the settlement, Mary commented to the press that “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it … it’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me. Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives”.

Teenager Compensated for Brain Injuries Sustained at Birth

A seven-figure settlement of medical negligence compensation has been approved by the High Court for injuries sustained by a  eighteen year-old boy as an newborn.

On the 16th September 1996, Thomas O’Connor was delivered via Caesarean Section at the Sligo General Hospital. However, upon his birth he showed no signs of life and had to be resuscitated using a tube to provide oxygen. Then, on his way to Intensive Care, baby Thomas suffered a heart attack. Once again, the newborn had to be brought back to life.

As a result of both of these incidents, Thomas was deprived of oxygen and sustained devastating damage to his brain. The damage has rendered him a spastic quadriplegic that requires round-the-clock care. Thomas, who is also blind and requires a tube for feeding, lives in a residential care home in Co. Sligo, close to his family.

Thomas’ mother, Ann, made a claim on her son’s behalf against Sligo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive. In the claim, she alleged that she had received inadequate care before the birth of her son. Additionally, she claims that Thomas’ heart attack was a direct consequence of  the improper insertion of his breathing tube.

However, both parties denied that they were liable for Thomas’ condition and contested Ann’s claim for birth injury compensation. The case proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where it was overseen by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

During the hearing, an expert witness told the judge that, despite a CTG scan conducted the morning before Thomas’ showing that he was suffering from foetal distress syndrome, there was an unnecessary delay of up to four hours in his delivery.

The witness also told the court that the tube used to ventilate Thomas after his first resuscitation had not been inserted in accordance with established guidelines. Rather than the recommended insertion depth of 9 to 10 cm, the tube had been inserted to 14 cm. This meant that Thomas was not adequately ventilated, leading to the heart attack.

The hearing proceeded for a total of four weeks, after which the HSE agreed to pay €1.75 million in compensation to Thomas. This was then approved by Judge Cross, who expressed his relief that the drawn-out ordeal was over for the O’Connors.

Woman Compensated for Damages due to Forgotten Vaginal Swab

A woman from Dublin has been awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation for injuries that resulted from a forgotten vaginal swab that had been used during her labour.

Claire Lalor, from Swords in Co. Dublin, gave birth on the 24th December 2012 at the National Maternity Hospital. The labour had been long and difficult, and Claire was discharged from the hospital three days after the delivery. However, she returned on two consecutive occasions in two weeks as she was complaining of an unpleasant smell and cramps in her lower abdomen.

However, Claire was never examined internally – despite her concerns – and on her second visit a prescription of antibiotics was given to deal with the supposed infection. Yet a week later her condition had not improved and Claire was finally given an internal examination. The doctor discovered that a vaginal swab – that had been used to stem bleeding during Claire’s labour – had been left inside her.

Though the swab was removed, Claire continued to experience pain. Further visits to the National Maternity Hospital resulted in a diagnosis of post-natal depression, though Claire then decided to visit Beaumont Hospital. There, she was diagnosed with a Clostridium difficile that was the result of the antibiotics prescription.

Upon her recovery, Claire sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for the injuries she suffered. The hospital acknowledged that they were liable for Claire’s injuries as a result of the forgotten swab and the following bacterial infection, though they contested the extent to which Claire suffered psychologically.

The National Maternity Hospital argued that rather than suffering from psychological damage because of the forgotten swab, Claire was actually suffering from post-natal depression. Negotiations were fruitless, and the case proceeded to the High Court of Dublin where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Though the judge agreed that the psychological damages for which Claire was claiming were more likely to be attributable to post-natal depression, especially considering her difficult labour, he agreed that – had she received adequate post-natal care – her symptoms may not be as severe. Judge Cross proceeded to award Claire €140,000 in compensation.

Young Boy Compensated for Birth Injuries

An interim settlement of compensation has been approved by a High Court judge for a ten year-old boy who sustained severe injuries at his birth.

On the 30th September 2004, Luke Beirne was born at the Midlands Regional Hospital. However, Luke – who was delivered eleven days after his due date – was deprived of oxygen in utero due to alleged medical negligence at his birth. This caused him to sustain severe brain damage, and he now lives with cerebral palsy.

Margaret, Luke’s mother, has alleged that during her labour the midwives were “chatting in the corridor”, neglecting to monitor her condition. Additionally, she claimed that the theatre’s door was locked, causing a delay in Luke’s delivery. As well as suffering from cerebral palsy, Luke has asthma and will require surgery as he grows to correct the tightening of his muscles.

Acting on Luke’s behalf, Margaret sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for birth negligence against the Health Service Executive and Dr David Mortell, he consultant obstetrician. In the claim she alleges that the latter did not discuss the risks of a vaginal birth for her second child, given that her first baby was delivered via a Caesarean Section three years before Luke.

Both accused parties denied that they were liable for Luke’s injuries, though they released statements that expressed their sorrow for Luke’s injuries and their consequences. However, they offered Margaret an interim settlement of compensation, made without an admission of liability.

Though dissatisfied with the outcome of the case, Margaret decided to follow the advice of her solicitor and accept the interim settlement. The case proceeded to the High Court, where Margaret informed Mr Justice Michael Morality that she trusted that the court would act in Luke’s best interest.

However, the judge was also told of the family’s concern that the offer of interim compensation – worth €800,000 – would not be enough to pay for Luke’s care. The defence told him that, should he decide the case needed a full trial, that they would testify that everything possible had been done to ensure Luke’s wellbeing.

Judge Moriarty commented that Margaret’s solicitors had engaged in “very hard bargaining” to secure the settlement offer, and that it was for Luke’s interest that he decided the case should not go to full trial. He proceeded to approve the compensation settlement and adjourned the case such that an assessment of damages can be conducted.

Failure to Treat Compensation Awarded by Court

The High Court of Dublin has approved a seven-figure settlement of compensation for a girl who sustained severe brain damage as a result of doctor’s failure to treat.

In April 2006, Caoimhe Flood was born at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital. However, because of injuries sustained at her birth, Caoimhe suffers from cerebral palsy. Her mother alleges that this was a direct consequence of her doctor’s failure to treat her abdominal pains.

Caoimhe’s mother, Marlis, had a history of ante part haemorrhages. In the months preceding her daughter’s birth, Marlis regularly attended the Rotunda for check-ups. However, between the 30th March and the 2nd April, she was admitted to hospital with pains in her abdomen. The day after her discharge, she returned for scans as she was beginning to experience other symptoms.

In her legal action, Marlis alleged that the scan was not conducted on the 3rd April, and she was sent home instead. The next day she returned to the hospital once again, her pain getting ever worse. An exam showed that she was in labour, and Caoimhe was born later that day. This, Marlis believes, was an unnecessary and available delay in her baby’s delivery.

After her daughter’s diagnosis with cerebral palsy, Marlis made a claim on her behalf against the Rotunda Hospital and the Health Service Executives, alleging that Caoimhe’s injuries could have been delayed if the hospital had treated her in a prompt manner.

The Rotunda denied that the were liable for Caoimhe’s birth injuries, though in 2012 they agreed to pay am interim settlement of compensation worth €1.3 million without admitting liability. Earlier this month, the case proceeded to the High Court for approval, as it was made on the behalf of a minor.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton heard at the court of how Caoimhe’s delayed birth left her a spastic quadriplegic. She is now reliant on full-time care. The final settlement – worth €2.6 million – was approved by Judge Barton, who expressed his relief that the drawn-out case was settled for the family.

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.