Severely disabled girl awarded interim payment of €2.4m

Viktoria Curilla sued the National Maternity Hospital over her care at birth

Jan Curilla   leaving the Four Courts with his daughter Viktoria after the High Court approved an interim settlement offer of €2.4 million damages for her. Photograph:  Collins Courts

Jan Curilla leaving the Four Courts with his daughter Viktoria after the High Court approved an interim settlement offer of €2.4 million damages for her. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A severely disabled girl who sued the National Maternity Hospital over her care at birth has secured an interim payment of €2.4 under a settlement of her action, made without admisison of liability.

Denis McCullough SC told the High Court that Viktoria Curilla, now aged seven, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, is one of the most severely damaged children he has met.

Her father Yan Curilla told Mr Justice Kevin Cross he and his wife had intitially hoped their daughter would recover.

“That was all caused by a strong hope and belief by us as first time parents that something bad and terrible like cerebral palsy could not happen to our child,” he said.

Mr Justice Cross was told the interim settlement for the next three years was made without admission of liability.

At the outset of the case, Adrienne Egan SC, for the hospital, said it regrets any shortcomings insofar as they may have contributed to the outcome for Viktoria.

Viktoria, of Arbored Lawns, New Road, Donabate, Co Dublin, had, through her mother Lucia, sued the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, Dublin.

Lucia Curilla was admitted to the hospital on December 29th, 2008 where a CTG trace commenced just after 7am indicated a healthy active foetus, it was claimed.

It was claimed a third CTG trace was commenced at 5pm which, it was alleged, was pathological and showed a low foetal heart rate which continued until the delivery. When the baby was delivered, she needed to be resuscitated and was in poor condition, it was also claimed.

It was alleged there was failure to carry out any, or any proper, monitoring of Mrs Curilla and her unborn baby and to take any, or any adequate, steps to ensure the safe proper and timely delivery of the baby.

The hospital denied all the claims.

‘Better future’

Mr McCullough said Viktoria has no speech and is tube fed. While it was unclear how much she can see, she can distinguish from light from dark. Her mother. who is a nurse, had given up her job to care for her daughter, he added.

Her father said he and his wife came to Ireland from Slovakia 12 years ago “to find a better future”.

It was only two weeks after Viktoria’s birth they were told she may have “some minor problems in the future”, he said.

It was not until their daughter was five months old they slowly started to realise how serious her condition was and “how massive was the brain damage she had suffered”.

The “bitter taste will stay with us forever”, he said in relation to the legal battle over the last seven years when “there wasn’t a single day that we were not thinking deeply with fear about our daughter’s future and our future”.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross praised the couple’s care of their daughter and hoped the settlement would remove the fear and burden of her care costs in to the future.

Outside court, Mr Curilla said Viktoria is the “real sunshine of our lives” and they are grateful for every second spent with her. “It is a real shame that, for all cases like Viktoria’s, it takes so many years for children in such circumstances to access funds for services that they desperately need from the every beginning of their lives,” he added.