Monday 26 September 2016

Girl settles legal action for €11m after alleged brain damage at birth

Tim Healy

Published 07/11/2012 | 17:43

A YOUNG girl allegedly brain damaged at birth is to be paid a total €11m under a final settlement of her High Court action.

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The settlement for Brid Courtney, now aged nine, was agreed without admission of liability by the HSE and was approved today by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

Two years ago, the court approved an interim payment of €2m and the case was adjourned with the intention that additional payments to meet her future care needs would be assessed later when a new system of periodic payments was introduced.

However, that system has still not been brought in by the government and the case came back before the court for approval of a final settlement.

Through her mother Deirdre Courtney, Killeacle, Ardfert, Co Kerry, the child brought the action against the HSE arising from the circumstances of her birth at Tralee General Hospital in February 2003.

The case resumed last week before Mr Justice Kevin Cross who was hearing evidence from experts aimed at assessing the costs of the child's future care needs.

The case settled today and was ruled by Ms Justice Irvine who was told by Liam Rediy SC an additonal €9m payment had been agreed to fully settled the case.

Mrs Courtney told the judge she was agreeable to that and Ms Justice Irvine said she had no hesitation in approving the offer given the failure to enact the periodic payments laws.

The periodic payments system is intended to provide for life-long payments of persons suffering from serious injuries necessitating lifetime care.

When previously outlining the case, Mr Reidy said Deirdre Courtney was admitted to Tralee General Hospital on February 24, 2003.

During labour, hospital staff failed to consider the dangers associated with a sudden and dramatic change in the foetal heart rate pattern and failed to deliver the foetus as speedily as possible, counsel said. This caused the child to suffer perinatal asphyxia causing brain damage, he added.

Mr Reidy said Brid is wheelchair dependent and must be lifted bodily. She is unable to communicate through speech and has to rely on the use of her eyes and facial expressions.

While profoundly physically disabled, her intellect was intact and she had a IQ of 106, he said. Brid was a "joyful happy" child who "communicates in a humorous way with everybody around her".

The court heard the child's parents, who were living in her grandparents' house which was not conducive to her needs, had built a new home with monies paid out from the interim payment.

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