Disabled boy gets €4.5m payout in HSE suit
FOR most people €4.5m is a life-changing sum of money. But despite being given that amount yesterday, Evan Doyle would gladly trade it all in for the chance to play hurling with his friends.
The 14-year-old secured a High Court settlement yesterday after he sued the Health Service Executive (HSE) -- through his mother Janice Doyle -- over complications arising from his birth in Sligo General Hospital in October 1995.
Evan was left severely disabled as a result of injuries allegedly sustained at birth. He has since developed cerebral palsy, has spastic quadriplegia and cannot do anything for himself.
It was alleged that a Caesarean operation would have prevented the injuries and a drug given to induce the birth was administered at twice the recommended dose.
Speaking after the ruling, which was made without admission of liability, Evan's father John said he and his wife were glad the case was now over and that it had been "a long couple of years".
"The first day I walked into (family solicitor) Tansey's office, it was never about money. I wanted answers. I got my answers. I hope everyone else is happy with that."
Last night, Evan's older brother, Kirk (21), said the money would go towards buying Evan the equipment he needs to live his life.
"We're happy with the result, but at the end of the day the hospital still hasn't taken responsibility, which is a joke," he told the Irish Independent.
"He loves hurling, he loves watching it, but he'd love to be able to play it. If he could walk, talk, things would be different."
Kirk also paid tribute to his family, whom he lives with at Mountain Close, Cartron View in Sligo, complimenting his parents for the care they have given Evan over the past 14 years.
The court heard from lawyer Des O'Neill, for Evan, who said that Evan's mother was admitted to the hospital on October 6, 1995. She was 25 years old at the time and was overdue.
She was given 2mg of labour-inducing drug Prostin E2 -- twice the recommended dose -- which produced a pattern of contractions greatly in excess of the required rate, Mr O'Neill said.
When Ms Doyle's situation deteriorated, a decision should have been taken to have a Caesarean section but this was not done and a monitor was removed, the court heard. A decision was then taken to have a Caesarean operation, but when the consultant arrived it was too late, Mr O'Neill said.
The hospital claimed the dose of labour-inducing drug given was standard practice at the time and the consultant arrived within the normally permitted time limit.
In the statement of claim, it was alleged the baby was delivered by forceps and was floppy, pale and grunting after delivery.
Now, Evan's speech is almost non-existent and he uses his eyes, primarily, to communicate but can use a device called a "talker" which has been provided to him by the HSE.
He attended St John's National School in Sligo in 2001 and requires physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.
He will require 24-hour assistance for the rest of his life.
Mr Justice John Quirke said the settlement figure was completely speculative and he criticised, as he has done previously, the system under which damages in such cases are assessed. He repeated his call for a review of the law in such cases to allow for a yearly figure to be conceded, which would provide for life cover.
At present the law does not allow for such a system of payments and the current manner of dealing with such cases was not a very logical way of dealing with them, the judge said.
The family's solicitor, Damien Tansey, said afterwards that the issue referred to by the judge was being attended to by the relevant authorities.