Girl awarded further €9m for injuries sustained during birth

Tetraplegic child had already received apology from Waterford Regional Hospital

A 10-year-old girl who is tetraplegic after injuries sustained during her birth at Waterford Regional Hospital has secured a further €9 million under a settlement of her action against the HSE, bringing the total settlement to €10.4 million.

The final €9 million settlement of Alex Butler’s case was approved at the High Court on Wednesday. Two years ago, the child received a €1.4 million interim payment and an apology from the hospital.

The final settlement was made on the second last day of an 18-day hearing to assess the child’s future care needs.

Liam Reidy SC, for the child, said Alex was a bright personality with a huge intelligence and, as a result of intensive physiotherapy treatment in the US, can now manage to walk a few paces despite being normally confined to a wheelchair.

A previous hearing was told that had the child been born 10 or 12 minutes earlier she would not be physically disabled.

In a statement previously read to the court, Waterford Regional Hospital apologised for the injuries Alex received at her birth in 2005 and accepted those should not have happened to her.

Through her mother, Sonya Butler, Kilmacleague, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Alex sued John Bermingham, a consultant obstetrician at Waterford Regional Hospital; Mahmud Khbuli, a locum consultant obstetrician at Waterford Regional Hospital who now practises at University Hospital Galway; and the HSE over management of her birth on April 12th, 2005.

Liability was admitted by the HSE on behalf of its servants and agents with the settlement made against the HSE only and the case struck out against Mr Bermingham and Mr Khbuli.

It was claimed the HSE failed to have any properly trained competent medical staff to deal with the delivery and failed to ensure there was an adequate and proper competent obstetrician available.

Competent cover

It was further claimed the HSE failed to ensure Mr Khbuli was a competent obstetrician and permitted consultant obstetrician John Bermingham to be absent without ensuring there was competent cover in place.

It was further claimed the pre-operative assessment of Mrs Butler was substandard and there was a failure to recognise the necessity for a caesarean section.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said it was a reasonable and sensible one.

Outside court, Mrs Butler said she and her husband had been shocked that, after an apology and admission of liability, it took another 18 days in court before a settlement was agreed.

“It’s been a long 10 years. We got an apology two years ago but it made no difference. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the legal battle,” she said.