Brain-damaged girl to receive €610,000 annually

Case of Saibhe O’Connor is first before courts to be finalised on basis of lifelong payments

 Eddie O Connor and Michelle Farrell - parents of Saibhe O Connor, of Ballyfermot, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins

Eddie O Connor and Michelle Farrell - parents of Saibhe O Connor, of Ballyfermot, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins


A brain-damaged teenage girl will get annual payments of €610,000 for the rest of her life under a settlement of her High Court action against Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital over the care provided to her mother before her birth.

The case of Saibhe O’Connor is the first before the courts to be finalised on the basis of lifelong payments.

Ms O’Connor, now aged 13, has already received interim settlement payments worth €2.94m under a settlement of her case, made in 2012 without admission of liability.

She is the first to accept the lifelong periodic payments, involving an annual payment for her care and upkeep for the rest of her life.

Approving the final settlement on Thursday, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said it was the first case where a family had availed of the new legislation allowing for periodic payments.

He was satisfied it was an appropriate case in which to make a periodic payment order.

He also said Ms O’Connor had demonstrated herself to be “somewhat of a warrior” and also thanked her parents, Michelle Farrell and Eddie O’Connor, for their care for their daughter.

In approving the settlement, the judge said he was taking into account the parents were happy with the periodic payments and those were in Ms O’Connor’s best interests to ensure she has all she requires for her lifetime care.

It was a wise decision to opt for periodic payments in this case and he was sure the parents were delighted it was their last time to come to the Four Courts in relation to their daughter’s case, he added.

Ms O’Connor, Croftwood Green, Ballyfermot, Dublin, had, through her mother, sued the Rotunda Hospital, Parnell Square, Dublin, over the circumstances of her birth on November 7th 2005.

It was claimed there was negligence and breach of the hospital’s duty of care towards the child in the treatment and management of her mother’s pregnancy. The Rotunda had denied all claims.

In the action, it was claimed Ms Farrell had gone to her GP and the doctor fearing the onset of pre eclampsia and was referred to the Rotunda Hospital as an emergency admission.

It was claimed she was diagnosed at the hospital on November 2nd 2005 with pre-eclamptic toxaemia and that, despite objections from her family, was discharged on November 6th to be reviewed two days later.

The following day Ms Farrell’s condition worsened and ambulance was called. It was claimed, en route to the Rotunda, Ms Farrell suffered an eclamptic seizure and had to be brought to the nearest city hospital for an emergency caesarean section.

In court on Thursday, Aongus O Brolchain SC, for Ms O’Connor, said the family had intended to go for a final lump sum payment but, given how the teenager has improved, it was decided to accept a periodic payment.

The legal team felt it was more prudent to take the periodic payment and this was an appropriate case for a PPO order.

He said Ms O’Connor can smile and has been on holiday in Spain and loves the heat and gets “significant and dedicated” care from her parents.