On the 16 April 2013 Augustus Cullen Law succeeded in settling, on an interim award basis, a claim on behalf of a 7 year old little boy who suffered from prolonged, partial asphyxia during labour as a result of failure on behalf of the midwifery and obstetric staff at Limerick Maternity Hospital to recognise the obvious signs of foetal distress demonstrated on the CTG trace. Rather than intervening immediately to perform an emergency Caesarean Section, the attempt to continue inducing labour in the mother was persisted with for a period of nearly 6 hours, during which time the infant Plaintiff suffered prolonged partial asphyxia. There was a further delay in actually performing the emergency Caesarean Section after it had been directed arising from serial attempts on the part of the anaesthetic staff to perform spinal anaesthesia. There were difficulties in performing the spinal anaesthesia such that the Caesarean operation was further delayed unnecessarily for a further 30 minutes.
It was the Plaintiff’s case that proper care would have mandated delivery of the infant Plaintiff some five hours earlier than it in fact occurred. The Plaintiff unfortunately was born in poor condition, suffered the effects of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy in the newborn period and has gone on to develop Cerebral Palsy. Although the Plaintiff has mobility he falls a lot and has significant balance issues. The Plaintiff also has suffered significant cognitive impairment and will undoubtedly require enormous assistance, care and support for many of the activities of daily living and is unlikely ever to lead an independent life.
Initially liability was denied by the HSE and a full Defence was delivered. This was the position adopted right up until very shortly before Trial. In the week before Trial, settlement negotiations were entered into. Ultimately, an interim settlement was arrived at to cover the Plaintiff’s loss, damage and care requirements of the Plaintiff for the next two years. A sum of €1,6 million and costs was agreed which represented a full value settlement covering the next two year’s care. It is anticipated that the Government will shortly introduce legislation to provide for an annual payment for life, index linked to cover future care costs. In anticipation that such legislation will be introduced the case has been adjourned for a further period of two years, at which time the Plaintiff will claim further damages for future care costs, aids and appliances etc on an annual basis.
Within the interim damages award of €1.6 million is an amount of €200,000 to cover the Plaintiff’s care needs over the next two year period. A further sum also makes provision for aids, appliances and assistive technology for the next two years in the amount of €75,000, neuro-physiotherapy/physiotherapy of €7,000, speech and language therapy of €10,000. The interim settlement also caters for future housing accommodation for the Plaintiff in the sum of €343,000. All of these amounts will be of great benefit to the Plaintiff and his mother in providing for him. It will bring about an enormous improvement in the Plaintiff’s quality of life.