€4m settlement agreed in brain-damage birth case

Noreen and Edward McCarthy at court. Picture: Collins Courts

A 27-year-old brain-damaged woman who had sued over the circumstances of her birth has settled her action against the HSE for €4m.

The action was brought on behalf of Rachel McCarthy by her mother Noreen arising out of the circumstances of her birth at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, on December 9, 1989.

It was alleged the HSE was negligent in its duty of care towards Rachel in the manner in which it managed her birth. It was claimed she suffered a lack of oxygen, resulting in a permanent brain injury.

The level of care provided after her mother presented at the hospital on the day of her birth was substandard, Rachel’s counsel Jeremy Maher told the High Court.

Rachel should have been delivered by C-section at a time much earlier than she was, counsel added.

The claims were denied and the settlement was without admission of liability.

Mr Justice Raymond Fullam yesterday approved the €4m settlement in favour of Rachel from Johnstown in Co Kilkenny.

Mr Maher said Noreen McCarthy presented at St Luke’s shortly before 7am on the day of the birth and was bleeding.

While the initial care provided to Ms McCarthy was not at issue, counsel said it was afterwards that the care was substandard.

It was their case that the defendant failed to take sufficient CTG monitoring after providing an initial scan.

Counsel said it was their case Rachel should have been delivered by a caesarean section by 5pm that day at the latest.

Following her delivery, Rachel was moved to Waterford Regional Hospital. Counsel said she suffered cognitive injuries, but did not suffer from any physical injuries.

There was “a full defence” to the claim. Included in its defence, the HSE argued the injuries Rachel sustained

occurred at an earlier stage of the pregnancy.

Counsel said that while Rachel’s life has been “difficult”, she had caring and extraordinary parents and siblings. The reason she has got on so well in life was due to their efforts, counsel said.

She had attended school for children with special needs and is currently attending a Rehab facility in Kilkenny where she does art and learns various life skills.

However, she will never be capable of independent living.


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