Friday 30 September 2016

Boy (12) who suffered catastrophic injuries minutes after birth awarded €11.4m

Tim Healy

Published 20/05/2015 | 17:30

Dr Fiona Murphy and her husband Mark Dunne pictured speaking to the media after the finalisation of their High Court action for damages on behalf of their son, Eoin Dunne. Pic:Courts Collins
Dr Fiona Murphy and her husband Mark Dunne pictured speaking to the media after the finalisation of their High Court action for damages on behalf of their son, Eoin Dunne. Pic:Courts Collins

A boy who suffered catastrophic injuries in the minutes after his birth has received a final payment of €8.5m under a settlement of his High Court action.

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The payment, made on top of an earlier interim payment of €2.9m, brings the final financial settlement for Eoin Dunne to some €11.4m.

The court had previously ruled the Coombe Hospital in Dublin was liable for the injuries sustained by the now 12 year old Eoin, of Malahide, Co Dublin, in the circumstances of his birth on July 30, 2002.

Had Eoin been effectively ventilated nine minutes after birth rather than at 17 minutes, he would probably not have suffered his devastating injuries, the court found.

The delay was unacceptable and the hospital was negligent in failing to ensure the child received the type of intubation and ventilation "mandated in the first ten minutes of his life", Ms Justice Mary Irvine previously ruled.

Eoin has severe dyskinetic cerebral palsy, cannot walk or speak and is totally dependent on others for all his needs.

In his action against the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, it was claimed Eoin suffered his injuries due to delays by the hospital in resuscitating him in the minutes after his birth.

The case ran for 43 days 1n 2012, extending over about a year.

It was adjourned mid-hearing as a result of the boy becoming ill and the hospital raising questions whether that illness might be relevant to the issue of causation of his injuries. 

The legal costs of the action itself, brought on Eoin's behalf by his mother, Dr Fiona Murphy, an anaesthetist, could be as high as €2m.

Outside court, Eoin's parents, Dr  Murphy and Mark Dunne, who have four other children, said they were relieved the legal action was finally at an end.

"It has been extremely stressful. We can now get on with our lives," Dr Murphy said.

The case had been fought every step of the way, Dr Murphy said. She believed that was unnecessary and the case could have been settled years ago.

Dr Murphy said she was "a mother first" and had found the legal process extremely stressful.

Had she known in advance what it would be like, she may not have taken the case but today she was glad she did and was relieved it was over.

In court earlier, Denis McCullough SC said this final payment determines the case once and for all.

Under the terms of settlement, it was agreed, should there be any changes to the real rate of return as a result of the dertermination of the Court of Appeal in another test case involving a child who was catastrophically injured at birth, the €8.5m can be recalculated and adjusted upwards.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the final settlement and wished the Dunne family well.

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