Sunday 18 August 2019

Record €32.4m awarded to boy (9) left disabled after hospital care 'failings'

Settlement: Benjamin Gillick’s parents Miriam and Andrew. Photo: Collins
Settlement: Benjamin Gillick’s parents Miriam and Andrew. Photo: Collins
Settlement: Benjamin Gillick’s parents Miriam and Andrew. Photo: Collins

Tim Healy

A nine-year-old boy left brain damaged and disabled after a hospital's failure to diagnose an infection when he was a baby has settled his High Court action with a final record damages payout of €25m.

It brings to €32.4m the total paid out to Benjamin Gillick, who now lives with his family in London. He has cerebral palsy, is tetraplegic and cannot talk.

It is the highest-ever settlement in the history of the State for a personal injuries claim. The €25m settlement was approved by the High Court yesterday afternoon.

The move came after the boy's parents pleaded with the court to reject a settlement sum of €22m earlier this week, saying it was not enough and was less than half of their claim.

Children's University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin, previously apologised in court "for the failings" that caused injuries to Benjamin.

In court yesterday, Benjamin's parents, Andrew and Miriam Gillick, said they thought the final offer should be in the region of €27.5m.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he appreciated the concerns of Benjamin's parents but he had to act in the best interests of the boy.

"I appreciate you are disappointed but I believe it is in Benjamin's best interests," the judge said as he approved the €25m figure.

The boy three years ago had received an interim settlement payment of €6.7m and a further uplift payment later.

In court yesterday, Denis McCullough SC, for Benjamin's parents, said a substantial offer of €25m had been made and it was in addition to the previous damages making a total of €32.4m.

The full cost of care he said will also be included in the settlement so that Benjamin can attend a specialist school 80km from his London home and transport there and back.

In court yesterday, Benjamin's father said the settlement would leave a shortfall for his kids and grandchildren to finance. He would have preferred €27.5m and he said it was not a fair payment.

Benjamin Gillick, formerly of Knockmaroon Hill, Chapelizod, Dublin, but now living in London, had sued the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin, over his care in April 2011.

He claimed the hospital was negligent about the investigation, diagnosis, management treatment and care of the shunt infection he presented with on April 9, 2011.

Benjamin had been admitted to Temple Street Children's Hospital on March 21, 2011 for the shunt procedure and was discharged home three days later.

It was claimed that between March 24, 2011 and April 15, 2011 the baby sustained a complication of the shunt procedure, a shunt infection and was vomiting. He was brought to A&E at the Children's Hospital.

It was claimed at no time was the possibility of a shunt infection considered and gastroenteritis and a chest infection were suggested.

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

Irish Independent

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