Woman’s case over alleged brain injury at birth settled for €20.5m

HSE admitted breach of duty in management of mother’s labour and delivery of baby at a Limerick hospital in 1990s

A woman who claimed she suffered a brain injury at birth in a Limerick hospital has settled her High Court action for €20.5 million.

The woman, who cannot be identified by order of the court, is cognitively impaired and has other deficits and weakness down one side.

Dr John O’Mahony SC, with Cian O’Mahony BL, for the woman, told the court it was a very serious case and it was their contention that valuable time had been lost before the baby was delivered by emergency caesarean section. He said the woman will never be able to have a job and requires ongoing care.

The HSE admitted a breach of duty in the management of the mother’s labour and the delivery of the baby in the 1990s at what was then St Munchin’s Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick. The woman had, through her mother, sued the HSE over the management of her birth.


The HSE denied the admitted breach caused the entirety of the alleged personal injuries. Causation remained a major issue in the case, said counsel.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to carry out immediate prompt delivery of the baby by caesarean section when a cord prolapse- where the umbilical cord slips down in front of the baby - occurred.

Immediate steps

A delay was allegedly allowed to occur and there was an alleged failure to take immediate steps to protect against pressure on, or compression of, the cord when the prolapse occurred prior to delivery. It was claimed there was a failure to take appropriate steps to protect the cord, and that the baby allegedly suffered asphyxia.

Dr O’Mahony told the court that a vacuum-assisted delivery was attempted but was unsuccessful. He said it was their case that this was a high-risk procedure to attempt at that time and valuable time was lost. The baby was then delivered by emergency caesarean section.

When she was born, the baby was in very poor condition and her only sign of life was a slow heartbeat. She was ventilated and intubated and was kept in the hospital special care unit for 10 days.

Counsel said the woman failed to reach her developmental milestones in sitting, standing and walking and also suffered seizures. He praised the young woman’s parents who, he said, had given her the best possible care and attention.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said he was satisfied there was a litigation risk in the case around causation. He said he was delighted there had been a resolution to the family’s satisfaction and he commended the woman’s parents for the care they provide their daughter.