Thursday 19 September 2019

Man (20) with cerebral palsy wins €5m damages against hospital over circumstances of birth

Martin Coleman, 20, from Whitegate, Co. Cork pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after the High Court approved a €5Million settlement. Pic: Collins Courts
Martin Coleman, 20, from Whitegate, Co. Cork pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday after the High Court approved a €5Million settlement. Pic: Collins Courts
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Aodhan O'Faolain

A 20-YEAR-old man who sued over the circumstances of his birth in a hospital has settled his High Court action for €5 million.

Martin Coleman, Ballyvaloon, Whitegate, Co Cork sued the HSE and retired consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Liam Mundow, over the circumstances of his birth at St Finbarr's Hospital, Cork, on May 25, 1997.

The court was told the case against Dr Mundow was struck out and the settlement was against the HSE only.

Senior counsel, David Holland, for Mr Coleman, told the court the settlement will make a very considerable difference to the young man who has cerebral palsy and who is a disabled sportsman and medal winner.

His mother Karen Coleman thanked the court and those involved for giving her son "a good life".

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross commented that Mr Coleman, who won two bronze medals at the Cerebral Palsy World Games for javelin and discus, has already succeeded in sport and he wished him well in the future.

At the opening of the case this week, his counsel said it was their case there was a complete shut off of oxygen supply to the baby during his birth at St Finbarr's and that Mr Coleman suffered a hypoxic brain injury.

Mr Holland SC said this was not the usual case of cerebral palsy where there was a very high degree of disability, but he said Mr Coleman's condition has had a devastating effect on the life he would have had.

Mr Coleman was stillborn and had to be resuscitated after birth and has dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Counsel said he has mild learning difficulties and while he is physically able and is a disabled athlete of note, he has  whole variety of physical conditions which impede him.

It was claimed that Martin’s mother, Karen Coleman,  was admitted to St Finbarr’s on May 25, 1997 and placed in a room in the observation area. It was claimed while there the supervision and monitoring of the mother was allegedly sub standard and she was allowed to walk around the area for lengthy periods.

It was further claimed that, despite alleged concerns being raised as to the CTG trace, there was an alleged failure to properly investigate it and take appropriate and speedy action.

It was further alleged the CTG trace monitoring the baby was discontinued at one stage for seven minutes and at another stage for a 44 minute interval.

It was further claimed there was another period of 24 minutes when the CTG was allegedly discontinued.

It was also claimed there was an alleged delay in summoning the consultant obstetrician and an alleged failure to have the paediatric team present for the birth.

The claims were denied.

Counsel told the court at one stage when Mrs Coleman was in labour she was transferred to a trolley to be brought to theatre.

In what counsel said was like a “ trolley farce”,  there was something wrong with the wheels of the trolley and it could not be moved.

“A second trolley could not get in to the room and the mother had to get off the first trolley and on to the second trolley,”he said.

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