€15m payout for disabled son is 'no Lotto win', say parents
The parents of a four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy have said the €15m settlement made by a maternity hospital was not "some form of Lotto win" and they would hand it back "in a heartbeat" if it meant their son could get back "what was robbed from him".
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, agreed with Eoin McCallig's father Anthony there must be a "better way" of dealing with cases involving catastrophically injured children than through litigation extending over years to a "bitter end" and last minute settlement offers.
Mr McCallig told the court that while a mistake may be forgiven, they could not understand why the case could not have been settled earlier because, for children like Eoin, "early intervention is crucial".
It is "crazy" some €800m in legal fees is spent fighting such cases and he appealed to hospitals and others not to "compound the mistake". The way families are treated "needs to change".
Mr McCallig said he didn't think anyone in the courtroom would put themselves in Eoin's position for €50m, never mind €15m. It was good to know Eoin will have financial security but the money "will never change his situation".
In a statement issued through their solicitor Michael Boylan, the parents said the settlement marked the end of a five-year ordeal, but the family "would hand this €15m settlement back in a heartbeat if Eoin could get back what was robbed from him in those two precious hours before his birth".
"Let no one think that this is some form of Lotto win for Eoin.
"This money will be badly needed so Eoin can live as normal a life as possible over the long life he will live and this will ensure that he gets all the excellent care, treatments and therapy he needs over the coming decades."
Through his mother Jean, Eoin, of Priory Way, Terenure, Dublin, brought proceedings alleging negligence in the circumstances of his birth at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital on November 24, 2012.
The settlement is against the hospital only.
In an apology read to the court, Master of the Coombe Dr Sharon Sheehan said they wished to apologise "unreservedly" over the "catastrophic" injuries suffered by Eoin and the "devastating consequences" of those for Eoin and his family.