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  • Writer's picturePatrick Moriarty

€11m settlement for woman with cerebral palsy

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

A young woman has received a settlement of €11m at the High Court as a result of the circumstances surrounding her birth at the Erinville Hospital in Cork. Margaret Hurley, from Skibbereen, has severe cerebral palsy. The settlement was made without admission of liability.

Margaret is almost 19 years old and is described as "smiley and affectionate", but she has severe cerebral palsy, requires 24-hour care, cannot walk and is non-verbal. She was born at the now closed Erinville Hospital in Cork on 1 March 2000. Her mother's original due date was estimated to be 13 February, but later changed to 19 February.

Her lawyers told the High Court there was a significant miscalculation by the hospital in estimating the due date. The court heard Margaret's mother, Claire, should have been induced earlier. While she was in labour, a monitor showed abnormalities in the foetal heart rate and Mrs Hurley's blood pressure was described as "through the roof".

A scan carried out after her birth showed Margaret's brain had been deprived of oxygen, but her parents were not told this at the time. A diagnosis was not given to the Hurleys until seven months later at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. It was 14 years before they realised their daughter's disabilities could have been caused by the events surrounding her birth after seeing media reports about another case.

The Hurleys said if they had known, they could have brought the case far earlier, and would have been able to access funds for much needed therapies for Margaret. A settlement of €11m was agreed after mediation, without admission of liability by the Health Service Executive.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he said it was a very good settlement. He said the couple provided extraordinary care for Margaret and he wished them all the best for the future.

Claire Hurley said they wanted lessons to be learned. She said there should be a mandatory obligation on the HSE to tell parents when their child has been injured as a result of medical negligence. She said this should be backed up by criminal sanctions.

Financial Blueprint of a Medical Negligence Case

Medical Negligence and personal injury cases are often a topic of conversation in Ireland. A case is built on the strength of expert reports and testimony. The ancillary costs are driven up by lack of access to salient medical records and details. This further underlines the need for mandatory disclosure and the need for patients to have live access to their own updated medical records.

At Peter McDonnell & Associates we know from experience that the single greatest cause of worry for clients is the issue of legal fees and costs. People worry that before a case commences or at the end of their case, they will be presented with a large legal bill that will be impossible to pay.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or a proportion of any award or settlement.

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