An eight-year-old boy with autism who sued over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital has settled his High Court action, achieving an interim settlement of €2.95 million to cover the next five years.
It was claimed there was a delay in delivering Shane Keating Fitzgerald, from Knocknaheeny, Co Cork, the High Court heard.
The boy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age three.
The Health Service Executive denied all of the claims in the case, which was settled without an admission of liability.
Shane’s counsel, Jonathan Kilfeather SC, instructed by solicitor Michael Boylan, told the court his side was alleging the boy’s autism was “a result of the deprivation of oxygen at birth”.
The boy’s case will next come back before the court in five years when his future care needs will be determined.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it reflected the litigation risk in the case.
The judge said he saluted Shane’s parents, Vicky Fitzgerald and Patrick Keating, for the care they have given their son since his birth.
Outside court Ms Fitzgerald said the family was relieved the legal proceedings were over.
“Shane has brought us so much joy. He is a great child who hugs us so much. This settlement will help him get the therapies he needs,” she said.
Shane sued the HSE through his mother.
Ms Fitzgerald was admitted to Cork University Maternity Hospital on March 13th, 2014, for induction of labour.
It was claimed there was evidence of acute foetal compromise with the heart rate causing concern from about 7.15pm. It was claimed there was, therefore, a degree of urgency to deliver the baby.
A suction cup was used to assist with the delivery, followed by forceps. Both methods failed, and Ms Fitzgerald was transferred to the theatre where she gave birth at 8.05pm.
The baby had to be resuscitated after delivery.
He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and a diagnosis of severe perinatal asphyxia and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy was made.
The baby’s brain was cooled for 72 hours.
It was claimed there was a failure to exercise proper care for the safety and wellbeing of the mother and her baby.
It was claimed there was an unnecessary delay in delivering the baby.
All the claims were denied.