Judge Awards Interim Settlement of Compensation for a Mismanaged Birth

A High Court judge in Dublin has awarded a four year old boy suffering from cerebral palsy an interim settlement of compensation for a mismanaged birth.

On 9th July 2010, Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital “neurologically compromised” having been deprived of oxygen in the womb. Kevin spent more than three weeks in the hospital´s intensive care department and, now suffering from cerebral palsy, can only walk short distances unaided.

On Kevin´s behalf a claim for compensation for a mismanaged birth was made against the Health Service Executive (HSE) by his mother – Jane Dunphy from Mooncoin in County Kilkenny. It was alleged in the legal action that Kevin´s injuries could have been avoided if he had been properly monitored and delivered an hour earlier.

According to court papers, a foetal blood sample had been taken at 1:40am on the morning of Kevin´s birth, but not subsequent to a decrease in his heartrate being recorded at 2:30am. It was claimed that, if a second foetal blood sample had been taken, a decision would have been made to intervene with the birth and Kevin would have been delivered by emergency Caesarean Section.

In 2013, the HSE admitted that there had been errors made in the treatment that Jane Dunphy had received and that the hospital had breached its duty of care by failing to effect a timely delivery. Liability was conceded and the HSE settled claims made by Kevin´s parents for emotional distress before Kevin´s claim went to the High Court for an assessment of compensation for a mismanaged birth.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met with Kevin privately in his chambers and learned that Kevin is at pre-school and, when he goes to school full-time, it is hoped that he will be able to join a mainstream class. Judge Cross described Kevin as “a lovely little lad”, and he praised the efforts put into raising him by his parents.

Judge Cross awarded Kevin an interim settlement of €2 million compensation for a mismanaged birth and adjourned the case for four years to enable a fuller assessment of Kevin´s future needs. When the case is reconvened, Kevin´s parents will have the option of choosing between a lump sum settlement and a structured settlement if legislation is passed in time for the introduction of a periodic payments system.