Saturday 24 August 2019

'Ben will never know what he missed' - record €32.4m settlement for boy (9) left brain damaged after diagnosis failure

Miriam Gillick
Miriam Gillick
8/5/2019 Andrew Gillick, father of Benjamin Gillick,with an address in Putney, London, England pictured leaving the Four Courts after the settlement of a High Court action for damages on behalf of his son, Benjamin.Pic: Courts Collins

Tim Healy

A nine-year-old boy left brain damaged and permanently disabled after a failure to diagnose an infection when he was a baby has settled his High Court action against Temple Street Children's Hospital, Dublin with a final record damages payment of €25m.

This brings to €32.4m the total paid out to Benjamin Gillick. It is the highest-ever settlement in the history of the State for a personal injuries claim.

The €25m settlement was approved by the High Court this afternoon.

The move came after earlier this week the boy’s parents pleaded with the court to reject a settlement sum of three million less of €22m saying it was not enough and was less than half of their claim.

Children's University Hospital, Temple Street previously apologised in court "for the failings" that caused injuries to Benjamin Gillick who has cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic and cannot speak.

In court today Benjamin Gillick’s parent Andrew and Miriam Gillick said they thought the final offer should be in the region of €27.5million.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approving the settlement said he appreciated the concerns of Benjamin’s parents but he had to act in the best interests of the boy.

"I appreciate you are disappointed but I believe it is in Benjamin’s best interests," the judge said as he approved the €25million figure.

The boy three years ago had received an interim settlement payment of €6.7m and a further uplift payment later.

In court today, Denis McCullough SC for Benjamin’s parent Andrew and Miriam Gillick who now live in London said a substantial offer of €25m had been made and it was in addition to the previous damages making a total of €32.4m.

The full cost of care he said will be included in the settlement and also so that Benjamin can attend a specialist school 80 kilometres  from his London home and transport there and back.

In court today, Benjamin’s father said he would prefer the case to be heard for the court to decide his son’s future needs.

He said the settlement would leave a shortfall for his kids and grandchildren to finance.

He would have preferred €27.5m. He said it was not a fair payment.

His father Andrew said: "Ben will never know what he has missed, he is entitled to proper care and financial independence.”

On a previous occasion, the court heard the boy suffered a brain stem injury when he was eleven months old which should not have happened.

The first interim payment of €6.7m which was for three years included €3.95m towards the price of house in London, where the Gillick family have now settled.

In an apology read out in court three years ago, the hospital said it sincerely apologised for the failings that caused injury to Benjamin Gillick and the consequent trauma for his family.

The case was back in the High Court today for ruling in relation to Benjamin's future care needs.

Yesterday, Mr Gillick broke down in tears as he told the court of his son's "gruelling regime" of therapy for hours each day and that he needs two carers.

He said their figures for their son's needs were not exaggerated and there was "no fat on the bones".

He had claimed a €22 million final payout would have a detrimental effect on his family and could leave them in “dire straits.” 

The little boy, who is one of identical twin boys, was born prematurely in Dublin and later underwent a procedure when eleven months old at Temple Street Children's Hospital to drain fluid on the brain. A shunt was inserted but he later returned to hospital vomiting and unwell.

The court previously heard shunt infection is a known complication of the procedure and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not investigated and Benjamin got progressively worse.

Benjamin Gillick of Knockmaroon Hill, Chapelizod, Dublin but now living in London had sued The Children's University Hospital, Temple Street Dublin over his care in April 2011.

He claimed the hospital was negligent about the investigation, diagnosis, management treatment and care of the shunt infection he presented with on April 9, 2011.

Benjamin had been admitted to Temple Street Children's Hospital on March 21, 2011 for the shunt procedure and discharged home three days later.

It was claimed that between March 24, 2011 and April  15, 2011 the baby sustained a complication of the shunt procedure, a shunt infection and was vomiting. He was brought to A&E at the Children' Hospital.

It was claimed at no time was the possibility of a shunt infection considered and gastroenteritis and a chest infection were suggested.

Liability was admitted in the case and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Previously in evidence Mrs Mirriam Gillick, who gave up a career in investment banking to look after her son, said Benjamin needs a lot of help to even play, whereas his twin brother is a bright child involved in sports and activities.

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