News Courts

Monday 22 September 2014

14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy tells court she should never have ended up disabled

Cerebral palsy won't kill me, says teenager after receiving €1.5m award

Tim Healy

Published 30/04/2014 | 02:30

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Mary Malee outside the court with her parents Marty and Maura, accompanied by their legal team

The High Court yesterday awarded her a €1.5m interim settlement against the HSE over alleged negligence at her birth.

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Mary Malee, who is in a wheelchair, read a short statement to the court in which she said her condition wasn't like having a broken leg in a cast for eight weeks, but was one she had for life.

"Cerebral palsy won't kill me, but I have to learn to live with it," she said. "This shouldn't have happened to me and others like me.

"It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry, but at least the payment of the compensation lessens the future financial worries."

Outside the court, the family's solicitor Michael Boylan said it had been a long hard struggle for the Malees and they were now relieved that Mary's future was secure. "She was immensely brave to read her statement in court. You have to focus on her abilities, not her disabilities. She is a real winner," he said.

If Mary had been delivered earlier at Mayo General Hospital, she would have been spared what happened to her, the High Court heard.

Her counsel, Aongus O Brol- ochain SC, said she was a very bright and popular girl with terrific family support and that she hoped to go on to third-level education. Despite certain physical deficits, she was coping exceptionally well.

The court heard the interim settlement was without an admission of liability.

In two years' time, the case will come back before the court, when a judge will assess Mary's future care needs, including the provision of a house, which is expected to cost in the region of €500,000.

Mary, of Shanaghy, Bohola, Swinford, Co Mayo, had sued the HSE through her mother, Maura Malee, over the circumstances of her birth at the hospital in Castlebar on October 11, 1999.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to intervene and carry out a Caesarean section in a proper and timely manner and that an alleged failure to ensure the presence of a skilled paediatrician at the birth of the baby, who was known to be suffering distress and was likely to require expert resuscitation.

CAESAREAN

It was further claimed that when a consultant arrived on the labour ward at nearly 7am, there was an alleged failure to understand the severity of the mother's condition and the urgent need for a Caesarean.

The claims were denied by the HSE.

Mr O Brolochain said Mrs Malee attended a consultant gynaecologist who had delivered her three other children. He advised her, on October 8, 1999, that she had raised blood pressure and said she should go into hospital the next day.

He advised Mrs Malee to be prepared for the induction of labour and also told her that he would not be able to attend as he had a cancer diagnosis and was about to begin treatment but would make arrangements for her care to be transferred to another consultant.

Counsel said Mrs Malee attended her GP on October 9, who told her to go to hospital immediately as she had symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

She was admitted on October 11 and transferred to the labour ward, where a third CTG trace was commenced. A fourth CTG, shortly after 6am, showed a series of decelerations and a consultant was called.

The consultant rang and said he was in Letterkenny and another consultant was contacted who arrived and assisted in the delivery. He said the delivery was complicated and Mary was not born until 7.20am. He said a decision to carry out a Caesarean should have been made earlier.

Irish Independent

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