The settlement brings to over €7m the sum for Mary Malee, a 16-year-old transition-year student, who said in a statement afterwards: “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it. It’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me.
“Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives.”
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, said he had “no doubt” Ms Malee would achieve her ambition of becoming an advocate for people with disabilities, describing the girl and her family as “heroic”.
Ms Malee read a statement to the judge in which she said that while she aware this was a final settlement, “and I don’t know what the future holds for me”, the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts “is not what I want”.
There is “an undeniable reality to the circumstances put upon me because of the HSE and their doctors”, she added.
Ms Malee, of Shanaghy, Bohola, Swinford, Co Mayo, through her mother Maura, sued the HSE over alleged negligence in the circumstances of her birth at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar, on October 11, 1999.
In an apology read in court, Mayo General Hospital expressed “deep regret” to Ms Malee and her family “for the circumstances surrounding your birth”.
It acknowledged “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”, adding that it did not underestimate “how difficult this has been for you and your family”.
Ms Malee secured a €1.5m interim payment in 2014 in a settlement without admission of liability.
Having heard from Bruce Antoniotti, for Ms Malee and her mother, Mr Justice Kelly approved the final €5.56m settlement as a “very good result”.
The judge said he has long advocated using mediation in such cases without need for a full trial and said it was regrettable that legislation allowing for phased payments is not yet a reality “despite years of waiting and years of promises”.
Previously, the court heard Mrs Malee had, during her pregnancy, attended as a private patient with the consultant gynaecologist who had delivered her other three children. On October 8, 1999, he advised her she had raised blood pressure, to go to hospital the next day, and be prepared for induction of labour.
The gynaecologist, since deceased, told her he could no longer attend her as he had just been diagnosed with cancer, was about to begin treatment, and her care would be transferred to another consultant, it was claimed, Mrs Malee was admitted to the Mayo hospital on October 9 with symptoms of pre-eclampsia. On October 11, she was transferred to the labour ward and a fourth CTG shortly after 6am showed decelerations. When the consultant to whom her care was allegedly transferred was contacted at 6.07am, he called back at 6.25am saying he was in Letterkenny, it was claimed.
Another consultant was contacted who assisted in the delivery. It was complicated and the baby was not born until 7.20am, in poor condition. A caesarean section should have been carried out earlier, it was claimed.