Sunday 4 December 2016

High Court approves interim payment of €4.1m as settlement of action brought on behalf of man (22) allegedly brain damaged at birth

Aodhan O'Faolain

Published 24/02/2016 | 17:20

Angela Whelan, of Church View, Nurney, Co. Kildare pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts
Angela Whelan, of Church View, Nurney, Co. Kildare pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Photo: Collins Courts

THE High Court has approved an interim payment of €4.1m as settlement of an action brought on behalf of a now 22-year-old man allegedly brain damaged at birth.

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Andrew Whelan has cerebral palsy and requires full time care and special accommodation for the rest of his life.

In his action over the circumstances of his birth at Portlaoise General Hospital on August 5, 1993, it was claimed a delay in his

delivery had caused his injuries.

Through his mother, Angela Whelan, of Church View, Nurney, Co Kildare, he sued the HSE and Dr John Patrick Corristine, a obstetrics and gynaecology specialist who practised at Portlaoise, for negligence.

Andrew's counsel,  Denis McCullough, said the settlement was against both defendants.

The action was due to be heard as an assessment of damages only, but following talks, the parties reached a settlement which includes an interim payment of €4.1m.

The settlement is to cover costs including the provision of ongoing care, aids and appliances for Andrew over the next ten years.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who adjourned the case to February 2026, said he had no hesitation in approving the settlement.

In a statement issued through her solicitor, Noel Sheridan,  Mrs Whelan said while money "cannot repair Andrew's brain or enable him to

walk" the settlement will "at least improve his quality of life and remove some of the family's worries for his future care."

Mrs Whelan said because of what had happened, Andrew had been "denied an opportunity of living a healthy, active and normal working life."

She also asked why it had taken some eight years for Andrew's case to be resolved.

In the action, it was claimed in late 1992 Mrs Whelan was referred to Portlaoise Hospital with an estimated due date was July12,1993.

She was not admitted until August 4 and Andrew was delivered by caesarean on August 5.

She claimed the defendants were negligent for causing her to go 24 days beyond her estimated due date, and failing to deliver Andrew

within 14 days of his estimated due date.

It was also alleged the defendants delayed in the delivery Andrew and failed to respond to the presence of abnormalities during his mother's labour.

It was also alleged the defendants failed to to respond to the signs of foetal distress in reasonably timely manner, and failed to recognise the need for or call for medical opinion or intervention in and around the time of the birth.

His counsel told the court it was their case Andrew's injuries could have been avoided "with proper care and management."

Andrew is wheelchair bound and his physical and mental disabilities are severe.

He cannot speak but can communicate, by making sounds, with others.

He is able to interact with others and is close to his mother. He had attended school until he was 18 but now spends several days a week at day care, which he enjoys.

His family believed the settlement was "fair and reasonable in the circumstances," counsel said.

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