Thursday 25 December 2014

Young girl (8) with cerebral palsy awarded damages of €4.85m over brain injuries sustained at birth

Tim Healy

Published 26/06/2014 | 16:04

An open verdict was returned at the inquest into the death of a Belgian student who "most probably" had taken cyanide
An open verdict was returned at the inquest into the death of a Belgian student who "most probably" had taken cyanide

An eight-year-old girl with cerebral palsy settled for €4.85m her action for damages over injuries sustained at her birth.

The latest and final settlement in the case of Kate Murphy brings to a total of €6.5m paid out to the little girl who suffered brain injuries.

Three years ago, South Tipperary General Hospital apologised before the High Court over failings resulting in serious brain injuries to to Kate when she was born in 2005.

Approving the latest settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross yesterday said to bring finality to the situation was in his personal opinion preferable to numerous applications in stages to the court.

The judge said it was a very good thing for Kate and her family that the matter has been settled.

"It is a prudent and wise settlement of the matter," Mr Justice Cross said.

The court previously heard the Murphy family wanted to finalise the legal action with a lump sum payment rather than return to court for interim payments every few years.

In 2011 Kate received a €1.3m interim payment and another €400,000 at a later stage.

Through her mother Sarah Murphy, The Valley, Fethard, Co Tipperary, Kate had sued the HSE over alleged negligence and breach of duty in the circumstances of her birth at South Tipperary General Hospital in September 2005.

Three years ago, counsel for the HSE told the court management and staff at South Tipperary Hospital wanted to  express their sincere apologies for the failings that caused the injuries to Kate and the consequential trauma experienced by the child and her family.

"They understand that neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Murphy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them", Oonagh McCrann SC said.

Denis McCullough SC, for Kate, said Sarah Murphy was admitted on September 19, 2005, to the hospital's maternity unit as a private patient. At the time, she was complaining of irregular contractions.

On September 20, Ms Murphy felt a violent movement in her abdomen which hurt her. A midwife examined her and said she had two options  to call the consultant or "tough it out" until the morning. Ms Murphy had felt obliged to opt for the latter option because of the midwife's advice, counsel said.

Later that day, Ms Murphy was transferred to theatre and the child was born by Caesarean section.  Both mother and daughter were in poor condition  afterwards and Kate was initially transferred to Waterford Regional Hospital and later transferred to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London, via a specially chartered aircraft, for specialised treatment.

Within months, it became clear Kate's head was not developing as it should because her brain was damaged, counsel said.

He said Kate can jump skip and walk, but her balance is not very good and she falls if she runs.  

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