€1.9m interim settlement for family of girl, 6

AN interim settlement of €1.9m was approved by the High Court in a case in which a consultant obstetrician has apologised to a six-year-old girl left in a wheelchair from severe cerebral palsy.

Catherine and Colm Sheehan from Milbrook, Mallow, Co Cork, took the medical negligence case on behalf of their daughter Isabelle against consultant Dr David Corr, who was carrying on a private practice from Bon Secours Maternity Hospital, Cork. Isabelle was born at the Maternity Hospital on November 29, 2004.

The case began last week and yesterday Denis McCullough, SC, for the family, thanked the judge for the time in which negotiations continued outside the courtroom. He said the sides had finally arrived at terms of agreement he was recommending to the court.

The compromise agreement, he said, provided for a two-year adjournment of the case to 2013, with an interim payment of €1.9m to be paid within 28 days.

It was anticipated that legislation providing for periodic payments would be introduced within that period and remaining issues could be dealt with at the resumed hearing. But if the legislation had not been enacted by then any future settlement would be based on a lump sum payment, said counsel.

Mr McCullough said the partial settlement provided for pain and suffering to date, adapting the family home for Isabelle, loss of earnings to date, past and future care, specially adapted car and a number of other issues.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill paid tribute to the parents for the high standard of care they had given Isabelle since her birth and which would continue into the future.

In approving the agreement, Mr Justice O’Neill said he was quite satisfied it was a prudent and reasonable settlement.

Last week the court was told Dr Corr had admitted liability in the case and had apologised, saying he “very much regrets” the outcome in relation to the birth of Isabelle. He said he made a “mistake” in not referring Mrs Sheehan to an expert in foetal medicine which had “disastrous consequences” for Isabelle and her family.

The court was told Isabelle requires intensive physiotherapy, a special needs assistant at home, payments for additional care work at home along with speech and language therapy.

Isabelle suffers from severe spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy, with both her arms and legs affected.

After the settlement her parents said they were very happy with the settlement and thanked solicitors Jillian and Michael Boylan. Ms Sheehan said it means Isabelle will have everything available to her.

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