Compensation for Paralysis due to Medical Negligence Approved in Court

An interim settlement of compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence has been approved at the Dublin High Court in favour of an eighteen year old woman.

In December 2009, Emily Casey (then 13 years of age) underwent a procedure at Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children intended to reverse her scoliosis – a curvature of the spine attributable to Emily having suffered from meningitis when she was just four years old.

During the procedure, a special screw – known as a pedicle – was inserted into Emily´s spine which was supposed to reverse the curvature. However, the screw was incorrectly inserted into her spinal cord, and Emily was left paralysed from the chest down. Because of the medical negligence, Emily is unable to live an independent life and confined to a wheelchair.

On her daughter´s behalf, Stephanie Casey from Dalkey in Dublin claimed compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence against Our Lady´s Hospital for Sick Children and the consultant orthopaedic surgeon who conducted the procedure – Dr David Moore.

Both the hospital and the consultant orthopaedic surgeon contested their liability until court proceedings were issued. The joint defendants subsequently admitted that errors had been made in Emily´s treatment and an interim €1.668 million settlement of compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence was agreed.

As the claim for compensation had been made on behalf of a legal minor, the case was presented to Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Dublin for approval of the settlement. Judge Cross heard about Emily´s medical background and that after the negligent scoliosis procedure she had remained in the hospital until April 2010 before being transferred to the National Rehabilitation Centre for further treatment.

Judge Cross said that he had no hesitation in approving the interim settlement of compensation for paralysis due to medical negligence, and he then adjourned the case until later in the month for issues to be resolved that prevented the settlement from being a full one. After the hearing, Emily’s mother said the family, and especially Emily, were relieved that liability had been admitted, but was angry that “Nobody would admit that a mistake had been made until last week.”