A young boy who has been left severely disabled due to medical staff’s mismanagement of his birth has been awarded an interim settlement of compensation by a High Court judge.
In July 2010, Kevin Dunphy-English of Mooncoin, Co. Kilkenny, was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital. When he was born, medical staff in charge of his birth declared him as “neurologically compromised”. Kevin spent the first three weeks of his life in an intensive care unit. He was later diagnosed with suffering from cerebral palsy. He can only walk for short distances, and he will be reliant on the use of a wheelchair for movement for the rest of his life.
Jane, Kevin’s mother, sought legal counsel and made a claim for his mismanaged birth and resulting injuries on behalf of her son against the Waterford Regional Hospital. In the claim, she alleges that though a foetal blood sample was taken at 1:40 am, there was no record of the foetal heart rate until 2:30 am. She states that there was no justifiable reason for this delay.
Furthermore, the legal action claims that, had medical staff taken another blood sample after the foetal heart rate was detected, the decision to intervene in Kevin’s birth would have been made sooner. An investigation carried out into the allegations of a mismanaged birth discovered that, had Kevin been delivered an hour earlier, he would not have sustained his current injures. They further agreed with Jane’s conclusion that there was no justifiable reason as to why Kevin’s birth was delayed by staff.
The Health Service Executives (HSE) acknowledged that Kevin’s birth was not dealt with to an acceptable standard, and that there was negligence on Waterford Regional Hospital’s part for not delivering Kevin quickly enough. The two legal parties entered negotiations, and they agreed on an appropriate value of compensation for Kevin’s injuries and for the nervous shock suffered by his parents. As the claim was made on behalf of a minor the settlement had to be approved by the courts to ensure that it was in Kevin’s best interests. The case was brought to the High Court to be heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.
Kevin met Judge Cross in the judge’s chambers before the hearing started. Judge Cross was told of Kevin’s progress at pre-school, and his parents’ hopes that he will be in a mainstream class when he goes to primary school. Kevin was termed “a lovely little lad” by the judge, and his parents were commended for their dedication to their son.
Kevin was awarded €2 million as an interim settlement of compensation for the injuries he sustained as a result of his mismanaged birth. The case was adjourned for five years by the judge such that an assessment damages could be conducted. Once this has been carried out, Kevin’s parents will be offered either a lump sum or a structured scheme of periodic payments if the legislation is introduced by the government in time.