High Court approves €7.5m final payment for boy with cerebral palsy

The president of the High Court has approved a final €7.5m payment to a 13-year-old boy with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy as part of the settlement of his action over the circumstances of his care at birth.

It brings to €11.3m the total amount he received.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly approved the payment for the boy, who is a ward of court and cannot be named, which was on top of an interim settlement of €2.1m made to him in 2013 and another of €1.6m in 2015.

The case was against the HSE over the care he received in the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick in June 2005.

It was claimed there was a delay in carrying out an emergency cesarean section which resulted in catastrophic injury leaving him blind, physically and mentally disabled, requiring 24-hour care and ongoing treatment and medication.

Liability was admitted by the HSE.

When the case returned before Mr Justice Kelly on Tuesday, he was told the boy's father, who worked outside the home but was very active in the care of his son, died last year of cancer.

Denis McCullough SC, for the boy, said his side had recommended a final payment of €7.5m although the mother "had reservations" and felt it should be €8m.

Actuaries for the family had estimated he should get €8.8m based on a life expectancy of another 15 years, the court heard. Experts for the HSE had estimated another 12 years and as a result, the €7.5m offer had been made.

The annual care bill alone was some €517,000, the court heard.

The mother told the judge her son was in this position "through no fault of his or of mine". She was "not being greedy" but she believed her son deserved as much as possible to provide for care for the rest of his life.

She said the family live in a beautiful but relatively remote part of the country where it was difficult to recruit the kind of round-the-clock care required. He needed two carers at all times and his mother is one of those at the moment with help from his adult sister and brother who still live at home.

Two nurses who had to provide care changed jobs around the time of her husband's death.

We had to bury my husband while trying to get on with minding (my son) and trying to recruit a new nurse.

After telling the mother he was prepared to give her time to discuss the matter with her family, and saying he believed it was in the child's best interests to accept the €7.5m offer, the judge adjourned the hearing briefly.

When the case resumed, the mother said they were prepared to accept the offer.

The judge welcomed her decision and said the difference between what she wanted and the €7.5m offer was half a million. While not a small sum of money, her son could have gotten less than €7.5m if it went to trial.

That trial would have involved a possible four-week hearing and various intrusions on the boy's life by experts who would have to draw up reports for the contested hearing.

There could also be appeals of any result which would create further uncertainty, the judge said.

He directed the money be paid into the account for wards of court and invested with a view to ensuring the boy will have a sufficient income stream to be looked after properly for the remainder of his life.

The court heard approval has already been given to provide for an extension to the family home so that carers can be accommodated and for the building of a hydrotherapy pool for the boy.

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