A seven year old girl, brain damaged at birth due to a delayed delivery, has had an initial child brain damage from injury claim settled for a sum of £1.6m in the High Court by Mr Justice John Quirke. Brid Courtney is unable to speak, is confined to a wheelchair and only able to communicate by using facial expressions. She took the action against the Health Service through her mother, Mrs Deirdre Courtney.
It was claimed that at the time of Brid’s birth in February 2003, nursing staff at hospital failed to act when there was a sudden and dramatic change in her foetal heart rate pattern. When labour was induced and the baby delivered following almost an hour’s delay, Brid was unable to breath and an emergency team of doctors had to resuscitate her. She was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy. The court was advised that despite being completely dependent on her parents, Brid was a “joyous, happy child” and was intellectually sound with a normal IQ of 106. Even though her profound physical disabilities will stop her from enjoying a normal childhood and shorten her expected lifespan, the court was told that Brid “communicates in a humorous way with everybody around her”.
The settlement was reached without admission of liability by the Health Service, and was made under the new “periodic payments system” which means that the case will return to the High Court in November 2012 to determine how much Brid’s family should receive to fund her future care. Again, she will be represented by her mother and, as is the case with all child injury claims, have to have any compensation settlement approved by court.
As he was officially approving the compensation settlement, Mr Justice John Quirke praised Mr and Mrs Courtney for the years of care they had given their daughter. He told the court: “It’s very inspiring to the rest of us to see what you’ve done. It really is remarkable.”