Baby not diagnosed properly gets €6.7m

A 5-year-old boy who has been left brain-damaged and permanently disabled after a failure to diagnose an infection when he was a baby has settled his action against Temple Street Children’s Hospital, Dublin with an interim payout of €6.7m.

Children’s University Hospital, Temple St, also apologised in court “for the failing” that caused injuries to Benjamin Gillick.

The boy has has cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, and cannot speak, the High Court heard.

Counsel Dermot Gleeson said Benjamin, who is now nearly six years of age, suffered a brain stem injury when he was 11 months old, which should not have happened.

The interim payment of €6.7m for the next three years includes €3.95m towards the price of a house in Putney, London, where the Gillick family have settled.

In an apology read out in court, the hospital said it sincerely apologised for the failings that caused injury to Benjamin and the consequent trauma for the Gillick family.

The little boy, who is one of identical twin boys, was born prematurely in Dublin and later underwent a procedure when 11 months at Temple Street Children’s Hospital to drain fluid on the brain. A shunt was inserted but he later returned to hospital vomiting and unwell.

Mr Gleeson previously told the court shunt infection is a known complication of the procedure and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not investigated. Benjamin, he said, got progressively worse.

Benjamin , of Knockmaroon Hill, Chapelizod, Dublin, but now living in Putney, had sued The Children’s University Hospital, Temple St, Dublin, over his care in April 2011.

Liability had been admitted in the case and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

In court yesterday, Mr Gleeson said agreement had been reached for a three-year interim payment of €6.7m. That figure, he said includes €1.2m for future loss of earnings and €450,000 general damages.

He said the expected price of a house in the Putney region near Benjamin’s special school would be about €5m, with another €1m required to adapt the house for Benjamin’s needs. The Gillicks, he said, lived in a three-bed apartment worth about €1m and they would now sell that. It was also expected that a portion of Benjamin’s loss of earnings would be put towards the purchase of a family home.

Counsel said the Gillicks needed about three times the space they presently have. The settlement and interim payment meant the family could move to a new home within six months. The Gillicks had gone for this option because extra money allotted within the settlement for therapies, aids, and appliances would not be any good without the extra space.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said it was a sad case and he congratulated Benjamin’s parents for the care they give their son.

The case will come before the court again in three years time to assess Benjamin’s future care needs.


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