Thursday 19 July 2018

Girl (11) with cerebral palsy and confined to wheelchair settles High Court case for €9m

Isabelle Sheehan with her parents Colm and Catherine pictured at a previous hearing
Isabelle Sheehan with her parents Colm and Catherine pictured at a previous hearing newsdesk

An 11-year old girl who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair has settled for €9m her High Court action over her care around the time of her birth.

It brings to €11.6m the amount paid out to Isabelle Sheehan who had sued consultant obstetrician Dr David Corr who was carrying out a private practice at Bon Secours Hospital , Cork, at the time of the girl's birth.

High Court President Mr Justice Peter Kelly approved the final settlement today.

The judge complimented "the truly remarkable care" Colm and Catherine Sheehan have given their daughter.

The court heard the family had wanted a final lump sum pay out because this was their third trip back to the High Court after a total of €2.6m had been paid out in interim payments.

Mr Justice Kelly said it was understandable that Isabelle's parents were weary with interim settlements and it under-scored the acute necessity for legislation to be brought in relation to periodic payments.

Through her mother Catherine, of Millbrook, Mallow, Co Cork, Isabelle sued Dr Corr, of the Cork Clinic, Western Road, Cork, over the circumstances of her birth in 2004.

It was claimed Dr Corr failed to act on blood tests carried out on Mrs Sheehan during her pregnancy which showed a significant risk to the health of the baby.


Dr Corr admitted liability and, in an apology read to the court five years ago, he "very much regrets the outcome in relation to the birth" of Isabelle.

He said he had made a "mistake" in not referring Mrs Sheehan, when she was pregnant in 2004, to an expert in foetal medicine.

This had "disastrous consequences" for Isabelle and her family and he wished to "apologise" to them.

Denis McCullough SC, for the family, said on Friday Mrs Sheehan, who had worked with Cork County Council before Isabelle was born, had given up work to care for her daughter.

Isabelle, known as Izzy, suffers from severe spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy, with both her arms and legs affected, the court heard.

She was described as "bright and intelligent" but her injuries i nitially affected her speech.

She now has a special machine to help her attempt to walk but she requires life long care. She attends a Gael Scoil near her home.

Outside court, the family's solicitor Michael Boylan said the Sheehans were relieved the case was finally over.

He said they had to come to the High Court three times and in all there was twelve days at hearing in relation various applications in the case.

He said the family would give up the money "in a heartbeat" if they could reverse what happened to Izzy.

The Sheehans were happy that the final settlement will secure Isabelle's future, he added.

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