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Judge Rejects Request for Lump Sum Payment in Cerebral Palsy Case

A High Court judge has rejected a woman’s request for her son’s interim payments of compensation for cerebral palsy to be replaced by a lump sum.

In February 1995, Connor Corroon (now 19 years of age) was born in the Cork City General Hospital. Due to the negligence and errors of the medical staff in charge of his birth, his brain was deprived of oxygen in the womb. As a consequence of this, he has been left permanently disabled. He was later diagnosed with suffering from cerebral palsy. He cannot communicate orally, and is reliant on a wheelchair for mobility.

On behalf of her son, Judith Corroon sought legal counsel and made a claim for birth injuries compensation against the hospital where her son was born. In 2010, Connor became the first plaintiff to be awarded an interim settlement of compensation for catastrophic injuries pending the introduction of structured payment legislation. Last year, he received his second interim settlement of compensation from the HSE.

The government still has not introduced a structured payment scheme for settlements of compensation in medical negligence cases. Connor was due to receive his third payment later this year. However, his mother requested that it be a full, final lump sum. She states that the series of assessments that her son must endure before each court appearance disrupts their attempts at having a normal life. By receiving a lump sum, she would save him this distress.

She explained her case at the High Court, stating that she desired her son’s life not to be filled with these frequent disruptions. She described her son’s existence as being in a “fishbowl”, and said that in spite of his disability, she hoped that Connor would one day be able to attend university.

Despite her plea, Judge Barton denied her request, although he seemed sympathetic to her cause. He stated his reason for the rejection of her case being that if the money from a lump sum payment were to one day run out, it would disastrous for Connor. He approved another interim payment of €1.45 million. To this date, the total paid to Connor for his injuries is €3.25 million.

Justifying his decision, Judge Barton said that he had recently received a consultation paper relating to the proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill. The Bill aims to introduce a system of regular payments next year to better serve plaintiffs with catastrophic injuries. The judge said that a periodic payment system would be in Connor´s best interests, and he adjourned the hearing for a further five years in the hopes that such a structured payment scheme would soon be introduced.

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