Boy (13) with cerebral palsy settles case over birth circumstances for €7m

Child’s mother told judge it was disappointing her son had to wait 13 years for this day to come

A 13-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of his birth and aftercare at University Hospital Waterford has settled his High Court action for €7 million.

Darragh Dooley cannot walk or talk and has to use a wheelchair. His mother, Louise told a judge it was very disappointing that her son, who is profoundly disabled, had to wait 13 years “for this day to come.”

The settlement is without admission of liability and all of the claims in the case are denied.

The family, Louise Dooley said, has been caring for Darragh who requires round-the-clock care day and night with only four hours a week of nursing support from the HSE.


“Darragh is our beautiful firstborn child adored and cherished. Considering Darragh is profoundly disabled with a life-limiting condition, it is very disappointing to have to wait thirteen years for this day to come. Considering how important early intervention is for children like Daragh, this needs to change,” she told Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

She added: “There is no amount of money that will compensate Darragh for the loss of the life he should have had.

“We are happy to have been awarded a settlement and we are relieved to know that we will be able to cater for Darragh’s future needs, equipment and therapies, which have been lacking over the years. We will finally be able to have some much-needed nursing support going forward, rather than the four hours a week the HSE currently provides us.”

She told the judge that during her pregnancy she and her husband Dermot spoke about their hopes and dreams “for our first baby’s future life”.

“Unfortunately, all our hopes and dreams were quickly shattered when Darragh arrived into the world on October 24 2009″ she said.

Darragh, she said, has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, global development delay, a visual impairment, one functioning kidney and is peg fed through a tube into his tummy. She said he cannot walk, talk or sit unaided. He is generally in good humour and loves music, stories, swimming and horse riding but suffers from repeat infections and sometimes requires hospitalisation.

The boy’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC, instructed by Dobbyn and McCoy solicitors, told the court Ms Dooley had a glucose test at 28 weeks into her pregnancy which did not show indicators of diabetes. Counsel said it was their case because of other factors, there should have been a mandated repeat glucose test at 32 weeks which they say would have shown gestational diabetes.

Mr Reidy said if it had been diagnosed there were various therapies which could have been availed of in relation to the placenta. Counsel said it was also their case that the birth of the baby should have been expedited and he should have been born 18 minutes earlier.

Counsel said Darragh was born in very poor condition and had to be resuscitated.

The child, of Kilmeaden, Co Waterford, had through his mother sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth and aftercare at University Hospital Waterford on October 24th, 2009.

It was claimed there was also an alleged failure to refer the baby after his birth for treatment by way of induced hypothermia and an alleged failure to respond appropriately to the condition of the baby at birth.

All of the claims were denied.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his best wishes to the boy and “his wonderful parents”.