Woman who allegedly suffered brain damage during birth gets €3.5m interim settlement

Case arose out of her delivery in the Coombe Hospital in 1998, when she suffered brain injury by reason of the alleged negligence on the part of midwives and doctors during labour, court heard
Woman who allegedly suffered brain damage during birth gets €3.5m interim settlement

The Coombe Hospital strongly denied the claim.

The High Court has approved a €3.5m interim settlement for a woman who allegedly suffered brain damage during her birth 24 years ago.

The woman, who cannot be named as she is a ward of court, sued the guardians and directors of the Coombe Lying-in Hospital, Dublin, where she was born in May 1998.

The hospital strongly denied the claim.

Liability and causation of the alleged brain injury was very much in dispute, the court heard.

The settlement, which provides for the woman for the next five years, was arrived at following mediation.

Bruce Antionotti SC, for the woman, said the case arose out of her delivery in the Coombe Hospital in 1998 when, his side argued, his client was caused to suffer a brain injury by reason of the alleged negligence on the part of midwives and doctors during labour.

This was strongly contested by a number of respected medics, who provided reports for the defendant, the court heard.

As a result of the injury, counsel said, she was eventually diagnosed with conditions including development delay and epilepsy. She also has language difficulty and a moderate intellectual disability.

Once the diagnosis was made, an investigation into the circumstances of her birth commenced in 2015 and in 2017 High Court proceedings were issued against the hospital.

Counsel said the woman had completed her education in a special needs school and later undertook life-skills courses which she enjoyed but which were interrupted by the pandemic and she never returned. She has been cared for mainly by her mother for the last 24 years, counsel said.

She had no mobility issues but could not go out on her own because she has no sense of safety and poor memory, counsel said. 

She mainly stays at her home and it is hoped the settlement can provide for improved accommodation and therapies, among other aids, over the next few years, counsel said.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey approved the €3.5m settlement and ordered that €660,000 be paid out "having regard to the extraordinary work done by her mother" over the last 24 years. He wished the mother, who was present in court, and her family, all the best for the future.

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