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£387,000 shoulder dystocia settlement awarded to 14-year-old boy

Justice John Quirke said he had “no hesitation” in approving a £387,000 settlement to Gavin Dowling (14) as compensation for sustaining shoulder dystocia at the time of his birth. In a claim made through the child’s mother, Mary Dowling of Coon West, Kildare, it was claimed that the defendants – Doctor Ashraf Aziz and the South Eastern Health Board – did not provide adequate care during the time of Gavin’s birth in late 1995. Gavin subsequently sustained shoulder dystocia – an injury which lead to him developing Erb’s Palsy and subsequent restrictions in the use of his left shoulder and arm.

The South Eastern Health Board and Dr Aziz, who was practicing at St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny, at the time of the alleged incident, rejected the claims and settlement was made with no admission of liability.

Gavin now has reasonable strength in his left wrist and hand, but will always suffer from permanent shoulder disability according to his parents, who have ruled out corrective surgery due to the possible consequences involved.

Court approval was necessary before the award could be made, as with all injury claims for compensation involving a child, and despite his disadvantages, Gavin has been doing well at school and enjoys taking part in sports.