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Teenager Wins Compensation in Birth Negligence Case

A teenager who has been left severely disabled due to negligence surrounding his birth has been awarded compensation by the Dublin High Court.

In November 2001, James McCarthy of Clonmel, County Tipperary was born at St Joseph’s hospital at thirty-three weeks. A scan revealed that his twin brother had died in the womb, and therefore James was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. The baby boy was born with severe disabilities. When he was one year old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

On behalf of their son, James Cooney and Linda McCarthy sought legal counsel. They made an injury compensation claim the consultant obstetrician Dr Raymond Howard, who was working at St Joseph’s Hospital and who had been in charge of Linda’s care during the later stages of her pregnancy with James.

In the claim, Linda stated that she had been referred to St Joseph’s Hospital for ante natal care and was seen by Dr Howard’s registrar. A scan was conducted and the registrar showed concern over the results. The registrar wanted to admit Linda to hospital immediately for further observation and in concern for the twins.

However, despite the concern, Dr Howard dismissed his registrar’s opinion and told Linda that she was to return to him a week later. She returned, and another scan was taken. This scan revealed that one of the twins that she was carrying had died during that time. This prompted them to deliver James by Caesarean Section immediately. Due to the trauma that James suffered in the womb, he is dependant on his parents for life. He is unable to walk, talk or  even sit up by himself.

Although Dr Howard was her obstetrician, the first time that Linda had actually met was the day after her son had been delivered. She alleged that neither her health not her son’s had been investigated, monitored, diagnosed or treated in an adequate or competent manner in the latter part of her pregnancy. She further claimed that James’ injuries could have been avoided in the doctor had taken greater care.

Dr Howard admitted liability for the young boy’s injuries. As the case was made on behalf of a minor, the case needed to be heard at the Dublin High Court so that a judge could approve the settlement of compensation. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings, and was informed that an interim settlement of compensation of €2.75 million had been agreed upon by the two parties.

The judge approved this settlement, and adjourned the case for a further three years so that an investigation into James’ future needs could be completed and further settlements of compensation could be calculated.

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