Tuesday 17 January 2017

'Bitter taste will stay with us forever' - dad of brain damaged girl hits out at legal battle after €2.4m payout over injuries

Published 29/07/2016 | 17:39

Viktoria Curilla of New Road, Donabate, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after the High Court approved an interim settlement offer of €2.4million damages for her
Viktoria Curilla of New Road, Donabate, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after the High Court approved an interim settlement offer of €2.4million damages for her
Jan Curilla with his daughter, Viktoria (left of pic) of New Road, Donabate, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after the High Court approved an interim settlement offer of €2.4m

A SEVERELY disabled seven-year-old girl who sued the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) over her care at the time of her birth has secured an interim payout of €2.4 in settlement of her action.

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Viktoria Curilla, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, was described by her counsel as one of the  most severely damaged children he had come across. 

Her father, Yan Curilla, told the court how he and his wife initially hoped their daughter would recover.

"That was all caused by a strong hope and belief by us as first time parents that something bad and terrible like cerebral palsy could not happen to our child," he said.

The court heard the interim settlement for the next three years was without an admission of liability.

At the outset of the case, Adrienne Egan SC for the NMH, said the hospital regrets any shortcomings  in so far as they may have contributed to the outcome for Viktoria.

Viktoria,  Arbored Lawns, New Road, Donabate, Co Dublin, sued the Holles Street, Dublin, hospital through her mother Lucia Curilla.

The court heard Lucia Curilla had been admitted on December 29, 2008.

A cardiotocography (CTG) trace was commenced just after 7am on that day.

It indicated a healthy active foetus. Further examinations and CTG traces were carried out.

It was claimed, at 5pm that evening, a third CTG trace was commenced which it was alleged was pathological and allegedly showed a low foetal heart rate, which continued until the delivery.

When Viktoria was delivered she needed to be resuscitated and was in poor condition, it was claimed.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to carry out any or any proper monitoring of Lucia Curilla and her unborn daughter. It was also claimed the hospital failed to take any or any adequate steps so as to ensure the safe proper and timely delivery of the baby.

The NMH denied all the claims.

Denis McCullough SC, for the family, said Viktoria has no speech, has to be fed through a tube and it is not clear how much she can see.

She can distinguish from light from dark. Her mother, a nurse, gave up her job to care for her daughter, counsel said.

Viktoria's father, Jan Curilla, told the court he and his wife Lucia came to Ireland from Slovakia 12 years ago "to find a better future."

It was only two weeks after Viktoria's  birth that they were told she may have "some minor problems in the future", he said.

It was not until she was five months old that they slowly started to realise how serious her condition was and "how massive was the brain damage she had suffered."

He said the "bitter taste will stay with us forever" in relation to the legal battle over the last seven years when "there wasn't a single day that we were not thinking deeply with fear about our daughter's future and our future."

Outside court Mr Curilla said Viktoria is the "real sunshine of our lives"  and they are so grateful for every second spent with her.

"I have to say that it is a real shame that for all cases like Viktoria's, it takes so many years for children in such circumstances to access funds for services they desperately need from the very beginning of their lives," he added

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