€2 Million Interim Settlement of a Birth Injuries Claim Approved at the High Court

A €2 million interim settlement of a birth injuries claim has been approved at the High Court in favour of a four-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital on July 9th 2010 after being starved of oxygen in the womb prior to his delivery. He was described as being “neurologically compromised” and spent the first twenty-four days of his life in intensive care. Kevin now suffers with cerebral palsy, can only walk short distances and will be wheelchair-reliant in the future.

Through his mother – Jane Dunphy of Mooncoin in County Kilkenny – Kevin made a birth injuries claim for compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE). In the legal action it was alleged that a foetal blood sample had been taken at 1:40am prior to a decrease in the baby´s heart beat being recorded at 2:30am.

It was claimed that if a further foetal blood sample had been taken subsequently to the deceleration of the baby´s heart beat, a decision would have been taken to intervene and deliver Kevin earlier. An investigation into the circumstances of Kevin´s birth found that his birth injuries could have been avoided if he had been delivered an hour earlier.

In 2013, the HSE accepted that there had been a mismanagement of Kevin´s birth by failing to effect a timely delivery. The HSE conceded liability and settled claims for emotional distress made by both of Kevin´s parents. The case then went to the High Court to organise an interim settlement of the birth injuries claim.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met with Kevin privately in his chambers. The judge learned that Kevin is at pre-school and it is hoped that he will be able to join a mainstream class when he goes to school full time. The judge described Kevin as “a lovely little lad”, and he praised the efforts the boy´s parents had put in to raising him.

The judge awarded Kevin €2 million as an interim settlement of the birth injuries claim, and adjourned the case for four years to allow for an assessment of Kevin´s future needs. When the case is reconvened, Kevin´s parents will be able to choose from a lump sum settlement or a structured settlement if legislation is introduced in time to allow for periodic payments.