Girl settles her action against HSE for €5.8m

An 8-year-old girl with dyskinetic cerebral palsy after her birth at a Cork hospital has settled her action against the HSE for €5.8m.

Girl settles her action against HSE for €5.8m

The settlement came on the 12th day of the hearing to assess damages before the High Court.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that liability in Grace Orchard’s case was only conceded in January — over three years after Grace’s parents had initiated proceedings in the case.

The judge said she regretted that it was not until this January that liability was conceded and it had taken over three years for the HSE to say it was culpable which the judge said seemed an “extraordinary length of time”.

Dr John O’Mahony SC said a letter of apology had been tendered to the Orchard family of Carrigaline, Co Cork, on the second day of the hearing.

Counsel read out the letter from Cork University Hospital CEO Tony McNamara in which he unreservedly apologised on behalf of the HSE to Grace and her family for the injuries she sustained during her delivery at St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork, in February 2006, and that the “treatment did not reach our high standard on this occasion”.

Grace Orchard, of Ferndale, Carrigaline, Co Cork, had through her mother Deirdre O’Callaghan sued the HSE over the handling and management of her birth at St Finbarr’s Maternity Hospital, Douglas, Cork, in February 2006.

Grace, it was clamed, suffered a severe trauma during the delivery and suffered considerable distress, pain and damage as a result of which she is left with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

On the first day of the hearing, Counsel Dr John O’Mahony said the HSE should apologise to Grace whose life has been destroyed and there was an “appalling poor handling” of her delivery at St Finbarr’s Maternity Hospital.

Outside court yesterday, Grace’s mother said the apology would not mean much to her daughter, but the family was relieved the court battle was all over.

“We want to thank our legal team who have stood by us for such a long time. The apology is not going to mean very much to Grace; it comes very late,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

Grace, Dr John O’Mahony said, is in first class in mainstream school but the services available to her have been dramatically reduced and cut back. Her balance is impaired and she has to use a wheelchair.

Approving the case Ms Justice Mary Irvine said it was a very good settlement and while she took on board Ms O’Callaghan’s reservation about the amount, she did not want her going home thinking it was not a good settlement: “It will never give Grace her life back entirely, but I hope your family can get back to some kind of normality. I wish you all the best.”

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