A young boy with cerebral palsy has secured a €15m payment and apology under a settlement of his legal action against a Dublin maternity hospital over negligence in the circumstances of his birth.
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, agreed with Eoin McCallig's father that there must be a "better way" of dealing with cases involving catastrophically injured children than via litigation extending over years to a "bitter end" and last-minute settlement offers.
The settlement for Eoin was approved yesterday, just three days before his fifth birthday.
The judge said it was a "fair and just" settlement and praised the child's parents, Jean and Anthony, for their dedication to, and love for, him.
A €13.4m offer was made last week but the judge agreed with the family's lawyers that was not adequate to meet the child's lifetime care needs and declined to approve it.
The case seemed to involve "error upon error", including failure to act on instructions to move Eoin's mother to a delivery room earlier and to ensure continuous monitoring of the foetal heartbeat, the judge said.
While it appeared negligence was admitted, the dispute, had the case gone to hearing, would have been whether the negligence caused the child's injuries and the plaintiff had a strong case in that regard, he added.
Denis McCullough SC, for Eoin, said they were confident they would have succeeded in showing the injuries were suffered in the 20 minutes before Eoin's delivery and, had he been delivered earlier, those would not have been suffered.
In an apology read to the court, the Master of the Coombe, Dr Sharon Sheehan, said it wished to apologise "sincerely and unreservedly" to Eoin and his parents over the "catastrophic" injuries suffered by him and the "devastating consequences".
The judge said the apology, issued last Friday, came late in the day but he was sure it would be "some comfort" to the parents.
Asked if they wished to say anything, Mr McCallig said that while a mistake may be forgiven, they could not understand why the case could not have been settled earlier.
He said it was "crazy" some €800m in legal fees is spent fighting such cases and he would appeal to hospitals not to "compound the mistake".
Mr McCallig added he did not think anyone in the court room would put themselves in Eoin's position for €50m, never mind €15m.