State Claims Agency paid out €268m in claims last year

The amount paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) in damages concerning medical negligence claims totals over half a billion euro over the past two years.

According to new figures provided by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris the amount paid out by the State Claims Agency (SCA) last year in medical negligence cases totalled €268.45m.

This represents an increase of €18.6 million - or 7.5% - on the €249.77m paid out in 2017 - bringing the total over the two years to €518.2m.

In figures provided by the State Claims Agency (SCA) to Fianna Fáil’s Finance spokesman, Michael McGrath in response to a written Dáil question, it reports that the highest sum paid out last year under medical negligence was €15.5m concerning a cerebral palsy case.

The SCA confirm that cases relating to birth specific procedure or cerebral palsy account for seven of the top ten medical negligence payouts last year.

The figures show that in the seven cerebral palsy cases, a total of €60.3m was paid out in damages and that money goes to fund the care of the individuals concerned for the rest of their lives.

The three other cases in the top ten payments concerned a pay-out of €6.3 million for a clinical procedure at surgery and a separate payout of €5.9m under the same category.

The lowest payout in the top ten was €4.37 million paid out concerning a clinical procedure in the Gynaecology service.

Deputy McGrath said today: "Many of these medical negligence cases are truly horrendous in nature and the human impact is incalculable. The HSE needs to ask itself why so many instances of negligence are occurring across the health system and take whatever steps are necessary to reduce the risk in the future.’

Separate figures show that the medical negligence area continued to be a lucrative one for lawyers and experts last year as the total amount out paid out in plaintiff’s legal costs amounted to €39.13m for 2018.

New figures provided by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe show that the €39.1 million paid out is a 6% drop on the €41.6 million paid out in plaintiff legal costs in 2017.

According to Minister Donohoe, plaintiff legal costs relate to the payments made to the Plaintiff’s legal team i.e. solicitors and counsel and are also inclusive of expert fees which are discharged by the plaintiff’s solicitor.

He said:

These expert fees may relate to actuarial, engineering, medical, witness fees, etc.

In the reply to Deputy McGrath, Minister Donohoe confirmed that the highest single amount in plaintiff legal costs from any one case was the €766,592 paid out to Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors.

In one other case included in the top 10 payments, Augustus Cullen Law received fees of €521,583. The payments are shared between solicitors, counsel and experts acting on behalf of the plaintiff.

Minister Donohoe also confirmed that the legal firm jointly established by former Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, Gallagher Shatter received €685,123 in fees from one case in 2018.

Nine of the top ten payments relates to figures over €500,000. The figures show that O’Hanrahan Lally D’Alton Solicitors received €589,620 from one case; Daly Derham Donnelly Solicitors received €530,938 and Doyle and Co received fees of €518,688.

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