Boy (11) with cerebral palsy settles action against HSE for €20m

High Court approves final lump sum payment for Alex Foley from Midleton, Co Cork

An 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital has settled his High Court action for almost €20 million.

On Tuesday, a final lump sum payment of €18 million was approved for Alex Foley from Midleton, Co Cork, bringing to €19.98 million the amount secured in his case.

Liam Reidy SC, with Doireann O’Mahony BL, for Alex, said he could previously only walk a few steps but, since key surgery in the US, can now walk two killometres without assistance. The first surgery was paid for by a huge fundraising effort in his local community.

Through his mother Laurane, Alex sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at the hospital on October 5th, 2010.


The claims were denied.

Five years ago, Alex secured a €1.98 million interim payment and his case was adjourned to this week to decide on his future care needs.

The High Court was previously told Ms Foley was pregnant with twins and had a scan in June 2010 which showed a low-lying placenta.

Another scan in September 2010 showed a low-lying placenta which, it was claimed, meant there was a real risk of vasa praevia, a complication of pregnancy in which a baby’s blood vessels cross or run near to the internal opening of the uterus.

The Foley side contended there should have been another more specific scan at this stage and, if there had been, it would have identified the risk.

The HSE denied the claims and contended it was not normal practice to carry out such a scan.

On October 4th, 2010, Mrs Foley began to suffer pains at home and went to the hospital where a CTG trace showed the foetal hearts to be normal.

After midnight, her waters were artificially broken and she suffered heavy bleeding.

Alex’s heartbeat started to drop and it was decided to deliver the twins by emergency caesarean section.

Alex was in poor condition when born but his brother Jacob was in a normal condition.

Mrs Foley told the court it is “absolutely amazing” that Alex can now walk.

The family wanted to accept a lump sum payment because they didn’t want “to go through the process anymore”, she said.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said the extraordinary if not miraculous progress Alex has made must be a great comfort to his parents.

Outside court afterwards, Patrick and Laurane Foley said the final settlement marks the end of an 11 year fight.

“Our battle started when we were at our weakest and consumed with the 24-hour care of Alex. It has been a struggle since that day as we have fought for Alex’s rights against the might of the State and the HSE,” Mrs Foley said in a statement.

The lump sum settlement will be spent ensuring Alex has the quality of life he deserves, including access to many specialist therapies, treatments and equipment he needs.

“It will help him live as best a life as possible with his injury, but of course it won’t change what happened,” she said.

“There is no amount of money that could compensate Alex for his injury, or give him back the life he should have had. What this will do is ensure he has a life that is as good as it can be. It is the very least he deserves.”

The couple thanked those “who helped Alex get his SDR surgery at the time in his life when it would be most effective and helped fulfill his wish to walk”. They also thanked those who fundraised and donated for his wheelchairs, “both of which the HSE would not provide.”