Tuesday 26 March 2019

'She's somewhat of a warrior' - first injury settlement with lifelong payments for girl with brain damage

Saibhe O'Connor (inset) has settled legal actions against the Rotunda Hospital over the care provided to her mother before her birth
Saibhe O'Connor (inset) has settled legal actions against the Rotunda Hospital over the care provided to her mother before her birth

Tim Healy

A 13-year-old girl is to receive lifelong €610,000 annual payments under a High Court action against the Rotunda Hospital over the care provided to her mother before her birth.

Saibhe O’Connor's is the first case to come before the courts which has been finalised with life-long payments.

The young girl, who has already received interim settlement payments totalling €2.94million, is the first to accept the life-long periodic payments, which means an amount will be paid out annually for her care and needs.

The settlement of Saibhe's case in 2012 was without an admission of liability.

Eddie O'Connor and Michelle Farrell - parents of Saibhe O'Connor, pictured leaving the Four Courts Pic: Collins
Eddie O'Connor and Michelle Farrell - parents of Saibhe O'Connor, pictured leaving the Four Courts Pic: Collins

Approving the final settlement in the form of periodic payments of €610,000 annually for Saibhe's lifetime, the President of the High Court, Mr Justice  Peter Kelly, said it was the first case where a family had availed of the new legislation allowing for periodic payments.

He said he was satisfied it was an appropriate case in which to make a periodic payment order.

He said Saibhe had demonstrated herself to be ‘somewhat of a warrior’ and he thanked her parents Michelle and Eddie for the care they have given their daughter.

The judge said he was taking in to account Saibhe’s parents were happy with the periodic payments. Mr Justice Kelly said he was satisfied the periodic payment order was in Saibhe’s best interests to ensure she has all she requires for her lifetime care.

He added it was a wise decision in Saibhe’s case to go for periodic payments and he was sure her parents are delighted it was their last time to come to the Four Courts in relation to their daughter’s case.

Saibhe O'Connor, Croftwood Green, Ballyfermot, Dublin had through her mother Michelle Farrell sued the Rotunda Hospital, Parnell Square, Dublin over the circumstances of her birth on November 7, 2005.

Saibhe O'Connor, who was the subject of a High Court action
Pic: Collins
Saibhe O'Connor, who was the subject of a High Court action Pic: Collins

It was claimed there was alleged negligence and an alleged breach of its duty of care towards Saibhe in the treatment and management of her mother's pregnancy.

The Rotunda had denied all claims.

Ms Farrell, it was claimed had gone to her GP and the doctor fearing the onset of pre-eclampsia had she had been referred  to the Rotunda Hospital as an emergency admission.

In hospital on November 2, 2005, Ms Farrell was diagnosed with pre-eclamptic toxaemia. It was claimed that despite objections from her family, she was discharged on November 6, to be reviewed two days later.

The following day Ms Farrell's condition worsened. An ambulance was called but en route Ms Farrell suffered an eclamptic seizure, and had to be brought to the nearest city hospital  for an emergency cesarean section.

In court today, Saibhe’s counsel Aongus O Brolchain SC said the O'Connors had intended to go for a final lump sum payment but given the way she has improved it was decided  to accept a periodic payment.

He said the legal team felt it was more prudent to take the periodic payment. He said they thought it was an appropriate case to consider a PPO order.

He said Saibhe can smile and has been on holiday in Spain and loves the heat.

He said her parents have been giving Saibhe significant and dedicated care.

Counsel said Saibhe's parents are happy with the settlement and prefer to be confident that funds will be available for the rest of their daughter’s life.

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