€31 million settlement over birth at Limerick hospital

University Maternity Hospital Limerick

ONE of the highest payouts in a case involving allegations of injury at birth has been made to a young woman who settled her High Court action over the circumstances of her birth at University Maternity Hospital Limerick (UMHL) for more than €31 million.

The young woman, who cannot be identified by order of the court, sued the HSE over the circumstances of her birth almost 20 years ago.

The court was told that she has cerebral palsy, a brain injury and cognitive impairment. She also has hearing loss, although she can communicate through speech and sign language.

The claim was denied by the HSE and the settlement was without an admission of liability. Although the HSE intends to offer an apology to the woman and her family, it will not be a public apology.

The woman’s legal representatives claimed there were two omissions in the care of the mother around the time of the birth.

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A urine specimen was allegedly not examined, and if it had been, it would have shown an infection that could have been treated, it was contended.

The second omission was that full dilation was not diagnosed and steroids were not given that would have been beneficial, it was claimed. The baby was delivered by Caesarean section.

It was claimed there was a failure to note that the mother was suffering from a urinary tract infection. There was also an alleged failure to properly diagnose the mother’s condition by way of premature labour when she attended the hospital.

It was further claimed the baby was deprived of the chance or opportunity of having treatment that would have assisted her in the birthing process.

The €31 million, which was a final settlement figure achieved after negotiations, will be paid out in stages during the woman’s life.

Her mother told Mr Justice Paul Coffey the family was happy with the settlement, although they were particularly concerned regarding the young woman’s later years.