Court approves €2.5m payment for girl with cerebral palsy 

The High Court has approved a lump sum payment of €2.5 million along with annual rest-of-life payments for a girl with cerebral palsy in final settlement of her action over the circumstances of her birth in Dublin’s Coombe Hospital. 
Damien Tansey, solicitor for Rachel Cooney (13), said the overall value of his client’s settlement would be some €13.5 million. 
 
Rachel will receive annual payments of €205,499 until she is 18 and €329,355 per year after that under the settlement, made following mediation and following last October’s long-awaited legislation on periodic payments. 
 
She had already received €2.5 million under the old “lump sum” payment system whereby her parents, Jennifer Lambe and Fintan Cooney, had to return to court seeking to have payments made for her care. 
 
Under the new system, the family will not have to return to court each time which was an “enormous relief” for her parents, Mr Tansey said. 
 
He said the old system required “enormous effort on the part of the family, is intrusive, requires the commissioning of numerous reports and the ordeal of coming to court each time to seek the court’s judgment and approval for settlements”. 
 
Mr Tansey said the arrangement would enable Rachel to reach her full potential. Periodic payments are indexed-linked and the state of the economy does not have any adverse impact on them, he said. 
 
Delayed procedure 
Rachel, of Harold’s Cross, Dublin, had, through her mother, sued the Coombe Hospital over the circumstances of her birth in March 2006. It was claimed that, after a failed vacuum and forceps delivery, Ms Lambe was taken to theatre and the baby was delivered by caesarean section. It was claimed the damage was caused wholly or in part due to a caesarean not being performed earlier. 
 
Counsel for the Coombe told the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, on Thursday, there was consent to the judgment in terms of the written agreement between the parties. 
 
Jonathan Kilfeather SC, for Rachel, said there had been three previous interim payments totalling €2.5 million and that the latest payment would go towards matters such as tuition, therapy and appliances. 
 
Ms Lambe told the judge the family was happy with the settlement. While Rachel had significant disabilities, she was “absolutely all there and interested in everything” and it was the family’s desire to have her integrated into life as much as possible. 
 
Mr Justice Kelly said, although he had only read about Rachel from the court papers and had not met her, she was “in good health and top form” thanks to the excellent care her parents had given her and they were to be congratulated for that. He said the annual payment system guarantees peace of mind for the rest of her life and he had no hesitation in approving the settlement. 
 
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