Tuesday 20 February 2018

Girl (10) who is tetraplegic after injuries she received at birth settles action against HSE for €9m

File photo: Alex Butler with her parents John and Sonya. Photo: CourtPix.
File photo: Alex Butler with her parents John and Sonya. Photo: CourtPix.
File photo: Alex Butler. Photo: CourtPix.

Tim Healy

A TEN-year-old girl who is tetraplegic after injuries she received at birth has settled her action against the HSE for €9million.

The final settlement of Alex Butler's case brings to €10.4million the total she has received in relation to her legal action over her birth at Waterford Regional Hospital in 2005.

Two years ago, she received a €1.4million interim payout along with an apology from the hospital.

The final settlement came on the second last day of a long running hearing on the child's future care needs which had already gone on for 18 days.

Liam Reidy SC, for the family, told the court that Alex is a bright personality with a huge intelligence.

As a result of intensive physiotherapy treatment in the US, the girl, who is normally confined to a wheelchair, can now manage to walk a few paces.

The court was told previously that had Alex been born 10 or 12 minutes earlier,  she would not be physically disabled.

Waterford Regional apologised  saying it " sincerely regrets the tragic consequences their failings have caused to both Alex and to her parents John and Sonya Butler".

Through her mother Sonya, of Kilmacleague, Dunmore East, Co Waterford, she sued  consultant obstetrician at Waterford Regional, John Bermingham; locum consultant obstetrician Mahmud Khbuli who now practises at University Hospital Galway,  and the HSE, as a result of the management of her birth on April 12, 2005.

Liability was admitted by the HSE and the case was struck out against Mr Bermingham and Mr Khbuli.

It was claimed the HSE failed to have any or any proper number of properly trained competent medical staff to deal with the baby's delivery and and failed to ensure there was an adequate and proper competent obstetrician available to effect a delivery.

At the final settlement hearing today counsel for the family said Alex's parents had fought a long legal battle for their daughter and "nothing in the case had come easy."

The parents  were "reluctantly happy" with the final settlement, he said.

They had built a house which included a therapy room, a hydro therapy pool and a soft play area for their daughter, counsel said.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr said the settlement was reasonable and sensible.

Outside court, Mrs Butler said she and her husband had been shocked, after an apology and admission of liability, that it took another 18 days in court before a settlement was agreed.

"It’s been a long ten years. We got an apology two years ago but it made no difference. There have been a lot of ups and downs in the legal battle," she said.

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