The family of a profoundly disabled girl in receipt of the largest personal injury settlement from the HSE in the history of the State has said that “no amount of money can change” her life.
Kameela Kuye, a 16-year-old schoolgirl from Carrigaline, Co Cork, today received a €23.5m payout from the HSE after a two-year case relating to the circumstances of her birth at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork in 2004.
The settlement for Kameela against the HSE was made without admission of liability and was reached after mediation.
In a statement outside the High Court this morning, the Kuye family said that the damages “will not alleviate Kameela’s injuries, which are profound”.
“However, the settlement reached will assist Kameela’s care needs into the future and will mean that she will have a better quality of life,” they said.
The family thanked their legal team, senior counsel John O’Mahony and Cian O’Mahony, and paid tribute to Kameela, “who has the most beautiful smile and a great sense of humour”.
Kameela, of Kilmoney, Carrigaline, Co Cork, took the case through her father, Jimmy Kuye, over the circumstances of her birth on December 22, 2004.
Kameela was present in court to hear the ruling by Mr Justice Kevin Cross, along with her parents Ganiyat and Jimmy, who Mr O’Mahony described as “the most plausibly dedicated, incredibly devoted and committed” people. Kameela's father held her hand throughout the hearing
Her solicitor, Emma Meagher Neville, described the settlement as being a “significant figure in personal injury litigation in this country”.
She said it had been achieved following “a long and arduous battle”.
Now aged 16, Kameela - who is the third child of five - cannot walk, is non-verbal, has profoundly impaired swallowing, is tube-fed, and suffers from incontinence. She attends a special school in Cork city.
Kameela’s parents are incredibly devoted and committed to her and have four other children, two of whom are in college, counsel told the court.
Her mother, Ganiyat Kuye, who is pursuing a masters degree in social work, said she and her husband, who works in logistics, support the settlement and wanted to thank their lawyers and the court. Kameela is a much-loved member of the family, she said.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross told Mrs Kuye she and her husband were to be congratulated for their extremely good care of her and he considered the settlement a "very good" one.
The family have, to date, lived in rented accommodation unsuitable for her needs and the settlement will provide for the purchase of a new home with a hydrotherapy pool and also provide for the extensive care, therapies and equipment she requires.
The court was told that Kameela was in good condition at the onset of her mother’s labour but, when delivered, was “next to death”.
It was claimed that although there was continuous monitoring of the foetal heart rate at the onset of labour, monitoring was intermittent for the last two hours prior to delivery contrary to guidelines by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists then in place.
As a result of the alleged negligence, it was claimed there was a failure to recognise signs of foetal distress and failure to intervene to deliver the child before she had suffered oxygen deprivation that caused severe brain injury which led to dyskinetic cerebral palsy with permanent profound neurological disabilities.
In its defence, the HSE denied negligence and pleaded the first warning sign which warranted action had arisen just eight minutes before delivery by which time it was too late for any intervention to alter the outcome.
Outlining the case, Mr O’Mahony said Kameela was doing well during the labour up to, it would appear, the last two hours of labour but, unfortunately, monitoring was not continued at an appropriate level and neurological abnormalities were missed.
Kameela was born in extremely poor condition with no sign of life except a poor heartbeat. The “crucial” evidence of negligence is the failure to monitor in the last two hours, he said. He agreed with the judge liability was very much an issue but said he believed they would have proven liability.
A critical part of the case was that the RCOG guidelines for monitoring and management of labour were not followed, he said. His case was she would not have suffered the injuries had there been continuous monitoring and the weight of evidence suggested she would have been born uninjured.
The cord was tightly wrapped around the baby’s neck and continuous monitoring would have detected that, he said.
He agreed there was a body of evidence from the defence to counter that but his side considered there were weaknesses in that, including the defence failure to provide the guidelines to his side until last month. The defence say the guidelines were followed in a fashion, he said.
The full value of the case was some €30m but there were issues between the sides, including about life expectancy, he said.