A High Court judge has approved an interim settlement of compensation for injuries due to birth complications in favour of a ten year old boy.
Luke Beirne from Mullingar in County Westmeath was born at the Midlands Regional Hospital on 30th September 2004, eleven days past his due date. Due to alleged circumstances surrounding his birth, Luke was starved of oxygen in the womb and now suffers from cerebral palsy.
His mother – Margaret – alleged that midwives were “chatting in the corridor” rather than monitoring her condition, and that a locked theatre room delayed Luke´s delivery – causing further birth complications. Due to the birth complications, Luke also suffers from asthma and will require surgery as he grows older and his muscles tighten.
On her son´s behalf, Margaret claimed compensation for injuries due to birth complications against the HSE, and also her consultant obstetrician – David Mortell – for allegedly neglecting to discuss the risks associated with a vaginal birth when her first child had to be delivered by Caesarean Section in 2001.
The HSE and the consultant obstetrician denied the allegations, but issued a statement expressing their regret that Luke had suffered such devastating birth injuries. On weighing up the facts supporting the denial of liability, Margaret´s solicitors recommended that she accept an interim offer of compensation for injuries due to birth complications without an admission of liability.
Although not happy with the outcome, Margaret agreed to her solicitor´s recommendation and, when the subsequent court hearing was convened to approve the interim offer of compensation, Margaret told Mr Justice Michael Moriarty that she entrusted the court to make the right decision for Luke and his future.
Judge Moriarty heard that the family were concerned that the €800,000 offer of interim compensation for injuries due to birth complications was not realistic and would not be sufficient to pay for Luke´s future care needs. However, he was also told that, if the case went to trial, the HSE and consultant obstetrician would testify that everything that could have been done in the circumstances was done.
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty said that he believed Margaret´s solicitors had engaged in some “very hard bargaining” to obtain the offer of settlement, and ruled that it was in Luke´s best interests given the possibility that a full trial may have resulted in a successful defence. He approved the interim settlement of compensation for injuries due to birth complications, and adjourned the case for eight years when Luke´s future needs will be reassessed.