Court Approves Compensation for Birth Injuries due to Alleged Negligence

The Irish High Court has approved an €800,000 interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence in favour of a 10-year-old boy.

On 30th September 2004, Luke Beirne was born at the Midlands Regional Hospital eleven days past his due date. Due to alleged negligence prior to his birth, Luke was deprived of oxygen in the womb and suffered brain damage. Now suffering from cerebral palsy, asthma and multiple allergies, Luke will require surgery and extra therapy as he gets older due to his muscles tightening.

Through his mother – Margaret Beirne from Mullingar in County Westmeath – Luke claimed compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence against the Health Service Executive (HSE), claiming that a failure to monitor the foetal heartbeat led to Luke´s injuries. Margaret also alleged that her consultant obstetrician – David Mortell – had not discussed the risks associated with a vaginal birth.

The HSE and the consultant obstetrician denied the allegations, but made an offer of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence amounting to €800,000. The offer was made without an admission of liability or an apology, and is intended to provide care and treatment for Luke until he reaches eighteen years of age and his future needs can be reassessed.

Margaret´s solicitors recommended that she accept the interim offer of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence, and the proposed settlement went to the High Court to be approved by a judge. At the hearing, Margaret told Mr Justice Michael Moriarty that she entrusted the court to make the right decision for Luke and his future.

She said that she was concerned that the offer of interim compensation for birth injuries due to alleged negligence was not realistic and would not be sufficient to pay for Luke´s future care needs. Margaret told Judge Moriarty that midwives were “chatting in the corridor” rather than monitoring her condition, and that a locked theatre room delayed Luke´s delivery – exacerbating his injuries.

Judge Moriarty heard that, if the case went to trial, the HSE and consultant obstetrician would testify that everything that could have been done in the circumstances to prevent Luke suffering birth injuries was done. The judge approved the interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries due to alleged – saying that it was in Luke´s best interests considering the possibility that, if the case went to a full trial, it could be found in the defendant´s favour.