Woman (25) settles action alleging birth injuries for record €35.2 million
Posted on 14th February 2023 at 22:19
HSE denied claim and contended management of birth complied with general and approved practice
A 25-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of her hospital birth has settled her action against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for €35.2 million.
The settlement in the case of Shauni Breen, from Togher, Co Cork, is the highest payout in the State in a personal injuries case alleging injury at birth.
She sued the HSE over the circumstances of her birth at Wexford General Hospital in 1997. The settlement is without an admission of liability. The settlement will be paid out in stages.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey approved a final settlement package of €33.25 million for the young woman in the High Court on Wednesday which, along with an interim payment of €1.95 million five years ago, brings the final settlement in the case to €35.2 million.
Her counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC, with Cian O’Mahony BL, told the court Shauni was born about 40 minutes after her healthy twin sister. He said Shauni suffered profound disabilities.
“Shauni is the light of the family’s life. Her family deserves the greatest compliments and they all dote on Shauni,” counsel said.
Counsel said the settlement is the highest ever in the High Court in this jurisdiction.
Shauni has cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia and uses a wheelchair, counsel told the court.
It was claimed that on December 30th, 1997, when the prenatal twins were at 33 weeks and three days, their mother Marie Foley was admitted to Wexford General Hospital with contractions at 5am. Shauni’s twin, Nicole, was born healthy at 6.10am.
It was alleged the management of Shauni’s birth was incompetent, with an alleged failure to have an anaesthetist present for the birth. It was further claimed there was a failure to have a full team in attendance ready and prepared for every eventuality, and a failure to recognise this was a high-risk labour.
All the claims were denied, and the HSE contended the management of the birth complied with general and approved practice. It submitted the treatment was entirely consistent with optimum, conventional medical practice in a district hospital maternity unit in 1997.
At a previous hearing, Dr O’Mahony told the court the baby had an abnormal presentation and his side contended she should have been delivered by Caesarean section within 15 minutes of her sister.
He said Shauni had to be resuscitated and was transferred to another hospital.
Counsel said the young woman is doing well and the care given by her mother throughout the years has been extraordinary.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and reasonable. He conveyed his best wishes to Shauni and her family.
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