Disabled boy seeks lump sum payment

The mother of an eight-year old Co Cork boy brain damaged at birth and who can only communicate with his eyes has asked the High Court to award a final lump sum payment for his future care needs as legislation to allow for periodic payments for the catastrophically injured is still not in place.

Gill Russell’s case was adjourned two years ago with an interim payout of €1.4m in anticipation of the legislation which has been pledged by ministers for justice.

Now, as a High Court judge sits to assess the future care needs of Gill Russell, from Aghada, Co Cork, his mother Karen, through her legal team, has asked for a final lump sum payment to be paid out in the absence of the crucial law.

Two years ago the HSE and Cork University Maternity Hospital apologised to the then six-year-old boy as part of the partial settlement of Gill’s action, which saw €1.4m paid out immediately. Gill cannot walk, suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy, and is confined to a wheelchair.

He had sued the HSE — through his mother Karen, of Kilteskin, Aghada — as a result of his care during his birth at the Erinville Hospital, Cork, on July 12, 2006. The balance of Gill’s case, including his future care needs, were adjourned to the High Court this week.

Liability was admitted in the case, which was before the court for assessment of damages only.

In the apology, the HSE and Cork University Maternity Hospital offered sincere apologies for the pain and distress experienced by Gill and his family following his care and delivery. It said it did not underestimate how traumatic it has been but assured Gill and his mother that additional reviews of hospital practices are continually carried out with the aim of ensuring the safety of patients at all times.

It was claimed that Gill was born at 8.36am after an alleged, prolonged and totally chaotic delivery. His head was born with an assisted vacuum and it took 12 minutes to deliver the shoulder. He had a severe shoulder dystocia and, eventually, after his mother had a symphysiotomy, he was born. He was transferred to Cork University Hospital and was not allowed home for two months.

In court yesterday, Oonah McCrann, SC, told Mr Justice Kevin Cross Gill’s mother Karen now wants “closure so they can get on with their lives” without the disruption of assessments, medical checks and the need to return to court to decide on periodic payments.

“All of that makes it impossible for herself and Gill to get on with a normal life,” counsel said.

She added that Ms Russell wanted a final lump sum payment “so that there can be a future with certainty” for herself and her son.

The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues.


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