Category: Birth Injury Claims

When a mother or child suffers an avoidable injury due to the negligence of the medical team assisting with a delivery, the injured party is entitled to make birth injury claims for compensation. Claiming compensation for a birth injury can often be a traumatic experience – especially when the claimant has their whole life ahead of them – but it is important that birth injury claims are not rushed and that a full settlement of birth injury compensation is received by the claimant. Therefore, if you or your child have been the victim of medical negligence which has resulted in a birth injury, it is in your best interests to discuss making birth injury claims with a solicitor on our freephone Solicitors Advice Bureau.

€1.8m Wrongful Birth Compensation Awarded Following Incorrect Foetus Test Results

The first ever wrongful birth compensation case in the State has been settled for an interim payment of €1.8m after a mother, who suffers from a rare genetic condition, alleged she was deprived of her right to travel for an abortion.

Her baby was born with the same disabling condition after a prenatal test that was carried on the foetus for that condition came back showing no indication that it was present in the child.

The mother in question told the High Court that she had planned to use her constitutional right to travel to the England for an abortion if the test had shown results showing that her unborn baby had the same debilitating genetic condition. However, her child was deliverd with the this condition and now needs 24-hour care. The mother claims that, based on the test results, she was not allowed informed consent and to make an informed decision in respect of the continuance of her pregnancy.

Legal representative for the mother, Oonagh McCrann SC, advised the High Court that the parents went ahead happily and joyfully with the pregnancy after the normal result was returned on the test. Later, following the birth, they felt considerable shock and grief when they discovered that the rare genetic condition with very significant and profound disability.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross put a barring order in relation to reporting of details that may identify the mother and child publicly. The mother had taken the wrongful birth compensation legal action against the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Dublin. Complete liability in the case was officially admitted on June 13 2018.

The admission stated that “in the particular circumstances of this case and in light of the outcome of the recent referendum repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution”, liability was admitted and the public policy defence was withdrawn.

Mr Justice Cross, remarking that liability had been admitted, said he felt the result of the referendum was not relevant.

 

Almost €250m paid in Medical Negligence Claims during 2017

The State Claims Agency (SCA)  has revealed that a record figure of €248.88m was paid in medical negligence claims during 2017.

This figure is an increase of 20.6% on the amount paid out during 2016, €206.4m in total.

In the report released by the State Claims Agency, figures indicate that that the SCA has paid out €1.123bn since 2010 in relation to medical negligence compensation claims. The figures produced show that between clinical, and €32.87m in general claims awarded against the general health sector, the SCA has paid out €1.235bn in total in the last seven years.

These details were revealed to Fianna Fail Finance Spokesman Michael McGrath by the Minister for Finance Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe following a written request for the specific details of the figures paid out by the State in compensation claims.

There were also significant increases in compensation claims against other sectors since 2010 including:

  • €23.6m in personal injury claims awarded against the Defence Forces.
  • €19m out by the Irish Prison Service
  • €11m paid out the Child and Family Agency TUSLA since it was established in 2013
  • €111m paid out by state authorities since 2010.

The main finding of the report was that, by far, that largest portion of compensation pay outs by the SCA in 2017 was taken up by the public medical sector.

Another significant point to note from compensation claims made against the state in 2017 were as follows:

  • €1.38m was last year paid out by the SCA on behalf of Comprehensive and Community Schools with €296,673 paid out by the Dept of Health.
  • €261,569 was paid out by the Deptartment of Justice while €574,632 was paid out on behalf of Day Schools.
  • €196,090 was paid out by Childrens’ Detention Schools.

Toxic Chemical Exposure Claims at Casement Airbase

The Journal published an article about toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase and the effects chemicals had on servicemen and their families.

According to the article, a former Air Corps mechanic has made toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase to highlight a lack of health and safety procedures. The “whistle-blower” has alleged that servicemen, their partners and their children have suffered illnesses and development issues – and in some cases death – due to exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals.

The claims were made under a protected disclosure agreement in an address to Ministers, TDs, senators and a Defence Forces representative. They were supported by documentation claiming twenty former servicemen may have died due to the exposure to toxic chemicals. Five children born with cancer-related conditions or birth defects are also claimed to have died due to their parents´ exposure.

The former Air Corps mechanic told the assembly: “I have come across several personnel whose wives have had multiple miscarriages both in serving and in retired personnel. In one case, a retired member’s wife had eight miscarriages in succession. I am also aware of three personnel who shared in an office in Casement´s engineering wing whose wives all had a miscarriage in the same six-month timeframe.”

The latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase are in addition to six personal injury claims already being made against the Defence Forces by former air corps servicemen. In their claims the former servicemen claim they were exposed to high levels of the restricted substance dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks.

The Defence Forces have also been threatened with prosecution by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) who last year conducted an inspection of the working conditions at Casement Airbase. Among a series of faults at the airbase, inspectors found a failure to conduct risk assessments or provide personal protective equipment to personnel working with hazardous substances.

When asked to comment on the latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase, a spokesperson for the Department of Defence told the Journal an independent investigator was reviewing the claims and there would be no comment until the final report was received and studied. A spokesperson for the Defence Forces told the Journal: “Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Sanofi Acknowledges Valproate Birth Defect Claims

The drug manufacturer Sanofi has issued a statement acknowledging the valproate birth defect claims being made against the company in a French class action.

The drug responsible for prompting the valproate birth defects claims is Depakine – an anti-epilepsy drug that has been available in Ireland since 1983 under the trade name Epilim. Epilim contains an active ingredient – sodium valproate – that stabilises electrical activity in the brain and has therefore also been prescribed for bipolar disorder, migraine and other chronic pain conditions.

When taken by pregnant mothers, the risk exists that the sodium valproate will be absorbed as valproic acid in the bloodstream and affect the health of their unborn child. In Ireland, children born after being exposed to valproic acid can suffer from spina bifida, autism and a range of congenital and development issues under the umbrella term “foetal valproate syndrome”.

The risks were first identified in France in the 1980s – where Depakine had been prescribed since 1967 – but no formal announcement was made to the medical profession by Sanofi until 2006. Even then, few medical professionals were aware of the side effects until France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – investigated valproate birth defect claims in the Rhone-Alpes region last year.

IGAS´ research revealed that around 450 babies in the region had been born with congenital defects between 2006 and 2014 after being exposed to valproic acid. The report called for a warning to be printed on the outside of each box of Epilim advising pregnant women not to take the drug, and also promoted a much deeper study of the risks by France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM).

The results of that study were recently released following an investigation into the health of 8,701 children, born to women known to have taken Depakine while pregnant between 2007 and 2014. The results revealed that up to 4,100 children had been born with “severe malformations” and many hundreds more had died in the womb or been delivered stillborn.

Following the release of the study, Sanofi issued a statement in which the company said: “We are aware of the painful situation confronting the families of children showing difficulties that may have a link with the anti-epileptic treatment of their mother during pregnancy.” However, the statement has not satisfied parents of the children affected by the side effects of Epilim, and they have started a class action of valproate birth defect claims to recover compensation for their children.

In Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning in large type on the front of the packet, and it is not known how many children have been born with birth defects due to being exposed to valproic acid. If a member of your family has been affected by this tragic situation, and you would like to know more about valproate birth defect claims, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.

Settlement of Compensation for Injuries to a Foetus Approved in Court

A settlement of compensation for injuries to a foetus has been approved in court after a judge heard how a girl suffered respiratory distress syndrome at birth due her mother being involved in a car accident two days before she was born

Judge Matthew Deery at the Circuit Civil Court heard how Martina Sheehan from Rathfarnham in Dublin had been driving the family car along Templeroan Road on 13th April 1999, when she was in collision with a vehicle driven by Elaine O’Connor – also from Rathfarnham.

Although neither driver was hurt in the road traffic accident, the shock of the collision was allegedly responsible for Martina going into early onset labour at thirty-six weeks, and two days later delivering her daughter – Aoife – at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

The prematurely delivered Aoife immediately went into respiratory distress and was placed on a ventilator in the hospital´s neo-natal intensive care unit, where she remained critically ill for three weeks until she was able to breathe independently.

After seeking legal advice, Martina Sheehan made a claim for compensation for injuries to a foetus on behalf of her daughter; but insurers for Ms O´Connor denied their policyholder´s liability for Aoife´s injuries claiming that pre-term babies were more pre-disposed to respiratory distress and there was no medical evidence to support the claim that the accident was the cause of Aoife´s premature birth.

Furthermore, the insurers claimed, as Aoife had not yet been born she would be ineligible to receive compensation for injuries to a foetus. Nonetheless, solicitors representing Martina and Aoife pursued the claim and, after a lengthy period of negotiation, a settlement of compensation was agreed that would see Aoife receiving €17,800.

Approving the settlement of compensation for injuries to a foetus, Judge Deery said that Martina and Aoife´s solicitors had done a good job in securing a positive outcome as, in the circumstances, proving liability may have been difficult if the case had gone to trial.

Interim Settlement of Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Compensation Approved in Court

An interim settlement of cerebral palsy birth injury compensation relating to a thirteen-year-old boy who was born with irreversible brain damage has been approved in the High Court in Dublin.

The claim for cerebral palsy birth injury compensation was made on behalf of Ryan Brennan from Cahir, County Tipperary, by the boy´s parents following allegedly avoidable complications before and during Ryan´s birth in January 2000 at the St Joseph´s Hospital in Clonmel.

Several hours prior to his delivery, a foetal trace had identified abnormalities in Ryan´s heart rate and, after he was born, he had to be resuscitated and suffered seizures throughout the day. As a result of his delayed birth, Ryan now suffers from irreversible brain damage and cerebral palsy.

It was alleged by Ryan´s parents – Lorraine and Raymond Brennan – that Ryan´s injuries could have been avoided if the consultant obstetrician – Dr Brendan Powell – and staff at St Joseph´s Hospital had acted with greater care, and a cerebral palsy claim for birth injury compensation was made against Dr Powell and the HSE.

Both parties denied the allegations of a failure to act, negligence, a breach of duty by Dr Powell and a breach of contract by the hospital which lead to the brain damage suffered by Ryan but, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that an interim settlement of cerebral palsy birth injury compensation had been agreed upon without admission of liability.

The €1.7 million temporary payment is for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured payment system and a review of Ryan´s future requirements. Ms Justine Mary Irvine described the interim settlement as ‘in the upper parameters of these types of cases’ as she approved it.

Claim for Hospital Obstetric Negligence Birth Injuries due to Lack of Staff Resolved in Court

The family of a girl who suffered brain damage at her birth have had their claim for hospital obstetric negligence birth injuries
due to a lack of staff resolved at the High Court in Dublin.

Alex Butler (8) from Dunmore East, County Waterford, was born in Waterford in April 2005; however, due to the hospital not having an adequate number of properly trained competent medical workers to deal with the Alex´s delivery, and to guarantee that a properly competent obstetrician was on duty, Alex´s delivery was delayed by twelve minutes – during which time she sustained brain damage which resulted in permanent tetraplegic injury.

Acting through her mother – Sonya – Alex made a legal action for birth injuries due to a lack of staff at the hospital, claiming that her consultant obstetrician had been permitted to take leave at the same time as the hospital´s two other obstetricians and that the hospital had used a locum obstetrician without ensuring that he properly qualified and experienced. Additionally, it was alleged that Sonya´s pre-operative assessment was below acceptable standards and there was a failure to recognise the need for a Caesarean section.

The High Court was told that the Health Service Executive (HSE) accepted liability for Alex´s injuries, and the claims for hospital obstetric negligence birth injuries against the consultant obstetrician – John Bermingham – and locum obstetrician – Mahmud Khbuli – were thrown out. A spokesperson from Waterford Regional Hospital read out an apology for the mismanagement of Alex´s birth and admitted that the mistakes that were made should never have happened.

The Court was also advised that an interim settlement of Alex´s claim for hospital obstetric negligence birth injuries due to a lack of staff totalling at €1.4 million had been agreed upon between the HSE and Alex´s parents. The compensation settlement is to be revisited again in two years when an assessment of Alex´s care needs for the future has been completed, and by which time it is hoped that the option of a structured settlement of compensation is available.

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Settlement of 1.4 Million Euros Approved in Court

A young woman, who was found to have cerebral palsy shortly after her birth, has had a cerebral palsy birth injury settlement of 1.4 million Euros approved in the High Court.

Deborah French (24) was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after her birth in August 1987 at Wexford General Hospital. Her parents brought a claim for birth injury compensation against consultant obstetrician Harry Murphy and the South Eastern Health Board, alleging that Dr Murphy had been negligent in the hours in the run-up to and during Deborah´s birth.

The case was settled without admission of liability by the defendants, a course of action supported by Mr Justice John Quirke as he approved the cerebral palsy birth injury settlement, stating that the conflicting opinions offered by medical experts may have put the family at risk of getting nothing in a trial.

The judge recommended that the funds be transferred to Deborah´s parents – Ann and John French – in annual increments of 100,000 Euros.