Benjamin Gillick, a nine year old boy who sustained permanent brain damage after medical staff made a delayed diagnosis of infection following surgery when he was just an infant, has been awarded €32 million medical negligence compensation at the High Court award has been approved for a nine-year-old boy – the largest award in the history of the State.
The parents of the boy, Miriam and Andrew Gillick, pleaded with the judge not to approve the proposed award as they believed the money was not a sufficient amount for the rest of his life. They told the Judge: “It leaves us with a shortfall that will be imposed on ourselves or our children, or possibly our grandchildren.”
The Judge commented in Court that , when added to the interim settlement of €7.4m made thee years previously, this brings to over €32m the total amount of the compensation that will be paid out to the boy.
Presiding Judge Justice Kevin Cross explained that only a small part of the the awarded compensation, under €500,000, was being handed over in relation to the tragic injuries inflicted on Benjamin. The vast majority of the compensation awarded is being made in relation to the cost of Benjamin’s complex treatment, educational and accommodation needs for the rest of his life.
Judge Cross, in giving his approval for a final settlement offer of €25m, commented: “When the headlines come to be written it should be noted that no one is getting a bonanza”.
He went on to explain that Benjamin would only have been awarded around €450,000 in relation to general damages for the injuries he still suffers from. The rest of the money to be made by the Children’s University Hospital at Temple Street to cover the expenses related to his future medical treatment.
Judge Cross told those present that compensation figure was already very high as, in relation to Benjamin, “thankfully he has a higher life expectancy and would have to be cared for long after his parents have departed”. The judge said it was very difficult to tale into account his (Benjamin’s) position in life in 60 years’ time when calculating to figure to be awarded.
Andrew Gillick, the boy’s father, told the Judge that he is worried with regard to the money being insufficient when compared to rates of return on investment in England, where the family have moved to. He went on to say that there has recently been a similar case decided in the UK where the compensation award was approximately €45m due to the costs of carers, therapies, aids and appliances, transport and education.
Benjamin was delivered prematurely at his birth along with his identical twin brother. After delivery he had to undergo a clinical procedure when he was just 11 months of age at Temple Street Children’s Hospital to drain fluid from his brain. A shunt was placed to deal with this and the boy was later returned to hospital due to vomiting and feeling quite sick.
The High Court was informed that a shunt infection is a common complication of the process and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not investigated. The court was also informed that Benjamin suffers with cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, and cannot communicate verbally like other children of the same age.