A GIRL who allegedly suffered brain damage at birth has settled her medical negligence action against a maternity hospital for €4.5m.
Jessica O'Brien (17), who has cerebral palsy, brought High Court proceedings, through her mother Joanne, against the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.
Jessica, from Cluain Ard, Duntaheen Road, Fermoy, Co Cork, claimed there had been negligence during the management of her birth at the hospital on May 26, 1993. She will require care for the rest of her life, the court heard.
The hospital denied the claims and yesterday's settlement, which was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke, was made without admission of liability.
The award will now be paid into court and will be used for Jessica's benefit.
Jessica's barrister, Liam Reidy, told the court her mother was referred to Holles Street after investigations at her local hospital revealed difficulties with Jessica's digestive system, which the Dublin hospital had the specialist expertise to deal with.
The day after the transfer, Jessica was born, but suffered brain injuries as a result of a lack of oxygen to her brain.
It was the plaintiff's case, he said, that the hospital had failed to properly monitor Jessica's heart rate in the 15-minute period just before she was born.
Given that the pregnancy was high risk, the hospital ought to have known that there was an increased risk of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) during labour.
Despite her brain injuries, the court heard Jessica is able to walk, but uses a wheelchair on occasions. She has difficulty with her speech and requires speech therapy.
Joanne O'Brien said she was happy with the settlement and had brought the case in order to get extra physiotherapy and speech therapy for Jessica.
Ms O'Brien also told the court that she had tried to take legal action against the hospital many years earlier but was told by another firm of solicitors that her daughter did not have a case. She then approached Cantillon Solicitors in Cork four years ago and began the proceedings that led to the €4.5m settlement.