Friday 13 December 2019

Girl (7) awarded €70,000 against the HSE after she sustained an alleged shoulder injury at birth

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Photo: Collins
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Photo: Collins

Tim Healy

A seven-year old girl whose case over an alleged shoulder injury at birth was sent back to the High Court for a re-trial has settled her action against the HSE for €70,000.

The Court of Appeal had ordered a re-trial of the case of Sophie Everard who had sued over the management of her birth at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda on January 23, 2011.

In court today, Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved a settlement of €70,000 and noted the settlement was without an admission of liability.

The judge said the little girl who celebrated her seventh birthday today had made great strides and her parents were to be congratulated for all the care they gave their daughter. He said this was the second birthday for Sophie that the family had spent in court but said this was now the end of their long legal battle.

Over two years ago when the case came before the courts another High Court judge had dismissed the Everard's case and they later successfully appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal.

Sophie Everard, Ratoath, Co Meath had through her mother Lisa Everard sued the HSE for damages for personal injures allegedly sustained at the time of her birth. The day after her birth Sophie had been diagnosed with Erb's Palsy, a left shoulder injury.

The claims were denied by the HSE and it also denied traction imposed on Sophie's head had caused her any injury to her arm and shoulder.

Mr Justice Michael White dismissing the case said the doctor was a very experienced practitioner. He said the HSE had established without doubt that there were other possible causes to Sophie’s injury.

“In fact the more likely cause was injury to Sophie’s left arm and shoulder when it was posterior in the womb,” the judge said.

The Court of Appeal which ordered a retrial said in April last year the main claim made by the Everards was that the baby was injured as a result of alleged negligent mismanagement of a shoulder dystocia emergency at the time of her birth. The court said regrettably the trial judge in the High Court did not fully engage with the evidence adduced on the Everard's behalf in support of that claim and in particular failed to make an express finding as to whether or not shoulder dystocia was present or excessive traction deployed.

In the High Court today Dr John White SC for the Everards said Sophie is doing very well and can play some sports. He said the case was settled for about half of the full value of the case.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Cross said medical opinion has changed in relation to shoulder dystocia and and there was now a very high legal standard to meet in such cases. He wished the family all the best for the future.

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