Boy receives €8.5 million settlement over birth injuries

Final payment in High Court action against Coombe Women and Infants Hospital

A boy who suffered injuries in the minutes after his birth at the Coombe Women and Infants Hospital in Dublin has received a final payment of €8.5 million under a settlement of his High Court action. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A boy who suffered injuries in the minutes after his birth at the Coombe Women and Infants Hospital in Dublin has received a final payment of €8.5 million under a settlement of his High Court action. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A boy who suffered injuries in the minutes after his birth at the Coombe Women and Infants Hospital in Dublin has received a final payment of €8.5 million under a settlement of his High Court action.

The payment, made on top of an earlier interim payment of €2.9 million, brings the final financial settlement for Eoin Dunne to some €11.4 million.

The High Court previously ruled the hospital was liable for the injuries sustained by the now 12-year-old boy, of Malahide, Co Dublin, in the circumstances of his birth at the hospital in July 2002.

The court found that, had Eoin been effectively ventilated nine minutes after birth, rather than at 17 minutes, he probably would not have suffered his serious injuries.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine had previously ruled that the delay was unacceptable and that the hospital was negligent in failing to ensure the child received the type of intubation and ventilation “mandated in the first ten minutes of his life”.

Eoin has severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy, cannot walk or speak and is totally dependent on others for all his needs.

In his action against the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, brought on Eoin’s behalf by his mother Dr Fiona Murphy, it was claimed that Eoin suffered his injuries due to delays by the hospital in resuscitating him in the minutes after his birth.

The case ran for 43 days in 2012, extending over about a year. It was adjourned mid-hearing as a result of the boy becoming ill and the hospital raising questions about whether that illness might be relevant to the issue of causation with regard to his injuries.

The legal costs of the action itself could be as high as €2 million.

‘Relief’

Outside court today, Eoin’s parents, Dr Murphy and Mark Dunne, said they were relieved the legal action was finally at an end.

“It has been extremely stressful. We can now get on with our lives,” Dr Murphy said.

The case had been fought every step of the way, Dr Murphy said. She believed that was unnecessary and that the case could have been settled years ago.

Dr Murphy said she was relieved it was over.

In court earlier, Denis McCullough SC said this final payment determines the case once and for all.

Under the terms of settlement, it was agreed, should there be any changes to the real rate of return as a result of the determination of the Court of Appeal in another test case involving a child who was catastrophically injured at birth, the €8.5 million can be recalculated and adjusted upwards.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the final settlement and wished the Dunne family well.

In her previous judgment on liability, Ms Justice Irvine founds Eoin’s injuries were caused as a result of suffering a period of near total acute hypoxic ischaemia, which began about two or three minutes before his birth and ended when his heartbeat was restored about 20 minutes later following resuscitation.

The judge found that if the hospital had acted with reasonable care for Eoin’s welfare, there was no reason why he should not have been effectively ventilated by the time he was nine minutes old. Had that occurred, he would not have gone on to develop the injuries.

The judge found that Eoin was born in moderate condition at 6.35am on July 30th, 2002 and, at the time of his birth, was not suffering from any inherent defect or genetic abnormality, as the hospital, had alleged.