Boy secures €2.4m settlement over brain injury allegedly suffered at birth

Family sued National Maternity Hospital claiming failure of timely decision for emergency caesarean

The National Maternity Hospital denied negligence and breach of duty. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The National Maternity Hospital denied negligence and breach of duty. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A three-year-old boy has secured a €2.4m interim payment under a settlement of a High Court action over a brain injury allegedly suffered at the time of his birth in the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) in Dublin.

By order of Mr Justice Kevin Cross, under a law providing for anonymity where a relevant party in a case has a medical condition, the boy cannot be identified.

The order, under Section 27 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, was made after the boy’s father said the family had significant reservations about how their son might react in the future should he learn about what he had gone through.

The boy “takes everything in” and the family are concerned over his future mental health particularly in the world we live in where people spend so much time on line and where their son had a very difficult start in life, he said.

The court heard the settlement was agreed following “intense negotiation” and mediation before a former Court of Appeal judge, Michael Peart.

The NMH denied negligence and breach of duty.

In approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross noted the family’s side had put the top value of the settlement at this stage at €3m.

The €2.4m was agreed because of the possibility, if the matter went to trial, the court may find there was no negligence and the risk the family would end up with nothing, had to be taken into account, he said.

This interim payment, the bulk of which is to pay for the boy’s future care, is until 2027 when the matter will return to court for further assessment, he said.

The family’s counsel, Denis McCullough, instructed by Michael Boylan Litigation Law Firm, said it had been agreed, when further assessments are being made, there will be no discounts.

The boy, suing through his mother, claimed there were a number of failures during the delivery including alleged failure to make a timely decision for an emergency caesarean. It was alleged that resulted in the baby suffering further impact on his head and making the eventual delivery more difficult and challenging.

It was also alleged there was failure to note the baby was suffering from a period of prolonged partial asphyxia during the time leading up to birth and during delivery.

The baby was born by emergency caesarean on September 23rd, 2017 in a poor condition, requiring resuscitation and transfer to intensive care.

He is permanently disabled, has intellectual and physical disability and will require ongoing early neurodevelopment intervention

Counsel said he is a very cheerful,well adjusted and lively boy and had been attending a creche until its closure due to the pandemic last year.

His mother told the court he would return to the creche later in the year but had recently undergone an operation and the family were concentrating on getting therapy and other assistance for him.

The mother said they were happy with the interim settlement.