Settlement of €8.8m after hospital sued over child’s troubled birth

Claim denied that girl (6) suffered partial asphyxia; settlement made without admission of liability

Colm and Siobhán Gallagher of Dunmore East in Waterford, whose daughter Martha Gallagher was awarded €8.8 million in damages, told the High Court  they just want to live their lives and move on. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Colm and Siobhán Gallagher of Dunmore East in Waterford, whose daughter Martha Gallagher was awarded €8.8 million in damages, told the High Court they just want to live their lives and move on. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A child who sued over the circumstances of her birth at Waterford Regional Hospital has settled her High Court action for €8.8 million.

The settlement is without admission of liability.

Martha Gallagher, aged six, is visually impaired, cannot see below her nose and has difficulty with her right side peripheral vision but attends mainstream school, the court was told.

Her mother Siobhán Gallagher told Mr Justice Kevin Cross the family were glad the case was over and wanted the lump payment settlement, negotiated after a day of mediation talks, so they could finally finish with medical assessments for court hearings.

“We place a huge value on a happy household and we want to live our lives and move on,” Ms Gallagher said.

Through her mother, Martha, of The Blaskets, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, sued the HSE as a result of the circumstances of her birth at Waterford Regional Hospital in June 2011.

It was claimed Mrs Gallagher was brought to the hospital on June 8th 2011 and her labour progressed throughout the day. It was claimed the baby suffered distress which, particularly during the afternoon, was allegedly not or not properly observed or monitored or treated.

Partial asphyxia

The baby was eventually delivered at 9.16pm having suffered prolonged partial asphyxia during the course of labour, it was claimed.

The claims were denied and the settlement was without admission of liability.

Siobhán Gallagher told the court, when she was admitted to the hospital, everything was going well until the afternoon when it seemed “incredibly busy” and a member of the team did not seem to be familiar with the equipment. She described the situation as “higgledy piggledy.”

It seemed to her for a time nobody seemed to be taking control of the situation, she said.

When Martha was born, she did not cry for a very long time and was taken to a room to be treated and it seemed “a lifetime” before she could hold her, Ms Gallagher said.

In the weeks that followed, she noticed the baby’s head was small and when she brought her back for a regular check up several weeks after the birth she still had a head the size of a newborn.

Martha did not walk until aged about three and the problems with her vision were only diagnosed about one and a half years ago, she said.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said it was a good one and he complemented Martha’s parents Siobhán and Colm for their care of their daughter and said he knew Martha was “a joy” to her family.