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Compensation Awarded in Avoidable Birth Delay Case

Compensation has been awarded to a young woman who now suffers from cerebral palsy due to a delay in her birth which was entirely avoidable.

Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital on 11th October 1999 via Caesarean section. The emergency operation was required after a heart trace showed that she was becoming distressed in the womb. Due to there being no consultant available to assist with the birth, Mary´s delivery was delayed by eighty minutes. By the time she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, Mary had sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She now suffers from cerebral palsy, and requires a wheelchair for mobility.

Mary´s mother – Maura Malee from Swinford, County Mayo – claimed a delayed delivery compensation settlement from the Health Service Executive. The claim alleged that her injuries were avoidable, and that the Mayo General Hospital was negligent and liable for her daughter’s injuries. She stated that they failed to ensure that a paediatrician was present after a deceleration of the foetal heart rate had been identified.This mismanagement of her daughter’s birth had led to the failure to deliver Mary in a timely manner. The defendants admitted liability for the injuries.

In March 2014, an interim delayed delivery compensation settlement of €1.5 million was approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. The case was then adjourned for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured settlement system. As no system for the phased payment of compensation to catastrophically injured claimants has yet been introduced, Mary and her family returned to the High Court to hear the approval of a final delayed delivery compensation settlement.

This time, the case was heard at the High Court by Mr Justice Peter Kelley. Representatives of the Mayo General Hospital read a statement to Mary, in which they apologised for “the many challenges that you have faced as a result of the treatment provided to your mother Maura at the time of your birth”. The representatives further told Judge Kelley that a final delayed delivery compensation settlement of €5.56 million had been agreed with the family. The judge approved the settlement on Mary’s behalf.

After hearing from Mary that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”, the judge approved the final delayed delivery compensation settlement. Judge Kelly also described Mary as “heroic” for the challenges she has overcome so far in her life and commended her for her ambition to become an advocate for people with disabilities.

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