Claims News

Cerebral Palsy Compensation Settlement Approved Despite Lack of Proof

Posted on: September 26th, 2014

The settlement of a teenager´s cerebral palsy compensation claim has been approved at the High Court despite there being a lack of proof over causation.

Sixteen-year-old Emma O´Donnell was born at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, in June 1998. Some time after her birth by suction, Emma started to display the symptoms of cerebral palsy, turned blue and started to have seizures. She now requires full-time care due an intellectual disability and behavioural problems.

Since 2007, Emma has been cared for by her father – James Forde from Aklow in County Wicklow – after her mother was diagnosed with a bi-polar condition and institutionalised. James gave up his job to look after his daughter and made a claim for cerebral palsy compensation on her daughter´s behalf.

James and the solicitor representing Emma encountered problems in establishing causation – as the links between the care Emma had received before and after her birth could not be directly attributed to her cerebral palsy condition. The National Maternity Hospital put a value of €6 million on the claim by the HSE – but only if there was full proof of causation.

Eventually a compromise was negotiated in which the National Maternity Hospital would settle the cerebral palsy compensation claim for €3 million without admission of liability – subject to the approval of a judge. Consequently, the tale of Emma´s tragic birth injury and her life since was told to Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns at the High Court in Dublin.

The judge was told that the cerebral palsy compensation claim had been brought so late in Emma´s life due to the difficulty of establishing causation, and Judge Kearns agreed that – if the case went to a full trial – it may not be successful. The judge was also given a letter of consent from the hospital, agreeing to settle Emma´s cerebral palsy compensation claim for €3 million.

Having reviewed the case, Judge Kearns approved the settlement of the cerebral palsy compensation claim for €3 million – describing the care that James had provided for Emma since 2007 as “heroic”.



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