Tuesday 24 October 2017

Boy (6) who can communicate only with eyes wins €1.4m for birth trauma

Karen Russell
Karen Russell

A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy who can't talk and can communicate only with his eyes is to get a €1.4m payout over brain injuries he suffered at birth.

Gill Russell, Aghada, Co Cork, suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.

At the High Court today, the HSE apologised to him and his family over the circumstances of his birth at Erinville Hospital, Cork, on July 12, 2006 .

The apology was read out as part of the settlement of his action for damages which will see €1.4 million paid out immediately and a further payout to be determined in two years’ time.

He had sued the HSE, through his mother, Karen Russell of Kilteskin, Aghada, Co Cork,as a result his care during his birth at the Erinville.

Following an eight-day hearing, the case was partly settled with the €1.4m to go towards his care for the next two years with the balance to be assessed by the courts in 2014.

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

Emily Egan SC, on behalf of the HSE and Cork University Maternity Hospital, where he was transferred to after his birth, read an apology for the "pain and distress" experienced by Gill and his family following his care and delivery.

The HSE did not underestimate how traumatic it has been but assured Gill and his mother that additional reviews of hospital practices are continually carried out with the aim of ensuring the safety of its patients at all times.

"The HSE and staff of Cork University Maternity Hospital are truly sorry for your adverse experience," the apology said.

His mother Karen told the High Court last week her son is " a smart kid who is locked in". He is in Junior Infants class in mainstream school and learns with the aid of a special computer.

It was claimed that Gill was born at 8.36am after an alleged prolonged and totally chaotic delivery.

His head was born with an assisted vacuum and it took a documented 12 minutes to deliver the shoulder.

He had a severe shoulder dystocia and eventually after his mother had a symphisiotomy, he was born. He was not allowed home from hospital for two months.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine said Ms Russell will have to come back in two years’ time, but it was in Gill's best interest that this type of settlement is in place.

It is hoped that legislation will be in place then to allow for periodic payments, she said.

Unfortunately, Ms Russell won't be able to put the case out of her mind for another two years because of this, the judge said.

Ms Russell told the court it has been an extremely tough few years with the court experience being both physically and mentally exhausting.

She was now very happy Gill will be cared in to the future and she can only hope legislation will be brought in to allow for annual payments.

Ms Justice Irvine told Ms Russell she was "incensed" about the situation herself and especially when she sees the posters for the Children's Referendum with the slogan 'Every Child Matters.'

The judge said the legal teams had worked out a formula and in two years time Ms Russell and her son will be " able to close the door" on the matter. She said she had not seen a better settlement in these type of cases and the only gap was the lack of legislation allowing for periodic payments.

"I am disappointed I can't make a series of periodic payment orders today. I have to put this case back for two years," Ms Justice Irvine said.

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