Thursday 22 August 2019

'This is not some kind of lottery win' - family speak out as son's brain damage case settled for €17.6m

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

A 13-year-old boy who suffered damage during his birth at a Cork hospital and now has cerebral palsy has settled his High Court action against the HSE with a final payment of €15million.

This brings to €17.6million the total amount paid to Arron Michael O'Keeffe who has previously received interim payments amounting to €2.6million.

Standing outside the Four Courts, Arron's mum Helen O'Keeffe from Mallow, Co Cork  said this final settlement marked the end of a 13 year ordeal for her family.

"We would hand back the €17.6million in a heartbeat if it were possible for Arron to get back what was taken from him in those hours before his birth," she said.

In a statement read by solicitor Aoife O’Kane of Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors on her behalf she added: "We think it is important for people to understand that this settlement is not some kind of lottery win for Arron, all of this money will be badly needed so that Arron can live as normal life as possible for the rest of his life."

The settlement his mother said will help to ensure that Arron will get all the excellent care, treatment and therapy he needs over the coming years and hopefully it will bring financial stability throughout his life.

She said Arron has always had a happy, smiling face, even from birth, with a twinkle in his eye.

"No matter what pain and suffering he has been going through over the past 13 years, he always came back with that special smile that would light up a room," she said in the statement.

Approving the final settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a good and reasonable one and he told Arron’s mum not to worry if people say it is a fortune.

The judge said it was not a fortune and of the €17.6million, less than half a million was damages and the rest related to necessary expenses to give him  some sort of life as he would have had.

He thanked Ms O Keeffe for her care of her son and he wished them well for the future.

Arron had sued the HSE though his mother, Helen O’Keeffe, of The Island, Kiskeam, Mallow, Co Cork, as a result of the circumstances surrounding his birth at Erinville Hospital, Western Rd, Cork, on Apr 11, 2006.

Liability was conceded in the case six years ago.

It was claimed the HSE was negligent and in breach of duty in that it failed to ensure continued and careful monitoring and observation of the condition of the baby and his mother following admission on Apr 11, 2006.

It was also claimed that, because of the negligence by the HSE in the management of his mother’s pregnancy, induction of labour, and delivery, Arron suffered profound hypoxic insult, resulting in cerebral palsy.

The court heard Ms O’Keeffe had been admitted to Erinville Hospital on Apr 11, 2006, for planned induction of labour.

A CTG trace was started before 8am and showed abnormalities in the foetal heartbeat.

At about 1.30pm, a decision was made to deliver by emergency caesarean section, but when Arron was born over an hour later, he was in a very poor condition and required vigorous resuscitation.

The case was back before the High Court today to assess Arron’s future care needs.

Arron’s counsel Aongus O Brolchain SC said Arron is a very likeable child and his left side is stronger than his right. Counsel said he attends school and he can walk with a shuffling gait.

Ms O’Keeffe told the court she was happy with the settlement.

Following the ruling of this settlement, Joice Carthy of Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors said it was worth noting the case was settled during settlement talks, facilitated by the HSE which took place well in advance of the trial date.

"This avoided the need for Arron’s family to have to go through a full trial with the stress and worry that invariably entails," she added.

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