Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors Secures Settlement of €8.4 Million for Woman with Cerebral Palsy

On 3 July 2019, Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors secured a settlement of €8.4 million for an eighteen-year-old woman, Ciara Ormond, with cerebral palsy. Managing Partner at Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors, Joice Carthy represented Ciara and negotiated the settlement on her behalf.

Ciara has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, needs 24 hour care and has to use a wheelchair, following catastrophic injuries as a result of circumstances at the time of her birth in Waterford Regional Hospital in November, 2000. Ciara sued the Health Service Executive which is responsible for the running of Waterford Regional Hospital.

The settlement was made without an admission of liability for Ciara’s injuries. The HSE admitted liability solely for a delay of 11 to 12 minutes before she was finally delivered.

The Court heard that on the night of November 4, 2000, Ciara’s mother, Jean, went into labour. She was 33 weeks’ pregnant. Ciara’s representatives told the Court it was their case that a trace monitoring the foetal heart rate was removed at 12.10pm the following day and was not recommenced for an hour-and-a-half. It was claimed that Ciara was deprived of oxygen during that time. The court heard that when Ciara was born just after 2.30pm, she required vigorous resuscitation.

Senior Counsel Bruce Antoniotti, for the family, told the court that experts on behalf of the defendants claimed the hospital had done nothing wrong and had acted reasonably when the trace was recommenced and it was clear the baby was in distress. The hospital admitted only that there was a delay of around 11 to 12 minutes before Ciara was finally delivered.

A settlement figure of €8.4 million had been agreed between the sides, increased from an initial offer by the defendants of €3.5 million.

On approving the settlement, Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon stated that it was an extremely tragic case and that Ciara had suffered terribly. She said that it was clear Ciara had been well-cared for up to this date and that the settlement was a fair and just arrangement.

Following the settlement, ACL Managing Partner Joice Carthy said that:

“In my opinion this case illustrates the need for mediation and negotiations at an earlier stage. There has been no admission of liability in this matter, but it is unfortunate that it could not have been settled at an earlier point because having to come to Court in order to settle the matter, has caused a lot of stress and worry for Ciara’s mum, Jean, who has been a devoted carer to Ciara for the past 18 years and will doubtless continue to be”.  

Outside the Court, Joice read a statement on behalf of Ciara’s mother, Jean:

“The reason we are here today is for our beautiful daughter Ciara, who suffered serious injuries at birth, which resulted in her having Cerebral Palsy. Liability for those injuries has not been admitted in Ciara’s case. We are relieved that Ciara’s case has settled today and she can finally get all of the specialist care and therapy that she needs and deserves. It has however been a very difficult battle and we feel it is unfortunate that Ciara’s case was brought this far and only settled at such a late stage. As a family, we would have found it far less stressful and upsetting if it had been resolved sooner.

Ciara has been awarded an amount of €8.4 million. This is not some kind of windfall and this settlement today is to secure Ciara’s future as she will be totally dependent for the rest of her adult life. No amount of money will give back what she has lost out on, and will continue to lose out on in the future. Ciara will need round the clock care and numerous therapies such as speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and many others. 

We would like to say a few things about Ciara so that you know something about what she is like. Ciara is an amazing young woman who is now 18 years old and who is loved greatly by ourselves and her extended family. We are extremely proud of her. She is almost always upbeat and cheerful despite her difficulties and everything that she has to go through every day.

Ciara needs 24-hour care, but she gives us a family so much back in return. Ciara is very friendly and sociable. She loves taking part in activities and she is a great fan of fashion and shopping. Ciara really enjoys horse riding, swimming and going to the cinema. She is a big music fan and her favourite musician right now is Ed Sheeran. She has a very good sense of humour and really knows her own mind. She is always on the go and likes to be kept occupied at all times! She just loves to live life to the max. Of course, it is heart breaking to think about what her life could have been like had things been different. This settlement at least gives us comfort to know that Ciara will now receive everything she needs to make her life more comfortable.

There are no winners here today and this has been a long time coming, we just want to move on now and give Ciara the best life that she deserves. 

We would like to thank Joice Carthy, Claire O’Toole and everybody at Augustus Cullen Law for their help in bringing Ciara’s case to a conclusion.” 

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