Brain-damaged boy settles case against Holles St for €5.5m

Cerebral palsy: Case was that antibiotics delayed, chance to deal with meningitis missed

A severely brain-damaged boy has settled for €5.5 million his action against the National Maternity Hospital, Dublin, over his care after being brought there at eight days old and later being diagnosed with meningitis.

Robert Montgomery (now 6), has cerebral palsy, is visually impaired, cannot talk and is a very unwell boy, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told in the High Court.

He sued the NMH over his care at the hospital in November 2010. He was later diagnosed as suffering from septicaemia and neo-natal meningitis.

‘Not given in time’

Denis McCullough SC, for the boy, said his side’s case was that appropriate antibiotics were not given in time and the possibility of the meningitis being dealt with was missed.


Had the appropriate antibiotics been given in time, Robert’s condition “would be much less severe”, counsel said.

An “expression of regret” was being prepared by the hospital for Robert and his family as part of the settlement agreed after mediation talks, counsel added.

Through his mother Denise Montgomery, Upper Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, Dublin, the boy sued the NMH, Holles Street, over the circumstances of his care.

It was claimed the baby had woken up on November 5th, 2010, with a piercing cry, was very listless and not feeding and was referred by a GP to the hospital.

His parents brought him there at noon on November 5th and were told, in the absence of an appointment, they would have to wait in turn, it was claimed.

The baby was admitted to the hospital two hours later, was then admitted to the intensive care unit and diagnosed as suffering from septicaemia and later Group B Streptococcus neo-natal meningitis.

Medical records indicated intravenous antibiotics were commenced between 6pm and 6.30pm and Robert remained in hospital until mid-December, when he was admitted to another hospital with increasing head circumference secondary to hydrocephalus, it was claimed.

It was alleged there was failure at the NMH to heed or respond to the baby’s symptoms and the complaints and concerns of his parents in an adequate, proper or sufficiently prompt manner, and failure to immediately recognise the gravity of the situation when he arrived at the hospital.

It was further claimed there was failure to ensure administration of appropriate intravenous antibiotics in a sufficiently prompt manner.

‘Four-hour delay’

There was a four-hour delay after admission, and a six-hour delay after presentation to hospital, before administering antibiotics, it was alleged.

Robert, it was alleged, was deprived of having a timely and effective treatment of his symptoms and condition, and was allegedly caused to develop severe meningitis, causing cerebral palsy.

The claims were denied.

In court today, Denise Montgomery told the judge it was very hard to accept the €5.5 million settlement offer because of what her son suffered that day and continues to suffer and because the sum was not the full value of the case.

While they accepted the offer, there was a worry whether it would last, she said.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said the family are to be congratulated by the court and society for the care they have given to their son, and he hoped their burden would be eased by the settlement.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times