€4.8m settlement for girl with cerebal palsy

Thursday 26 June 2014 23.45
South Tipperary General Hospital apologised before the High Court over failings resulting in serious brain injuries to the eight-year-old
South Tipperary General Hospital apologised before the High Court over failings resulting in serious brain injuries to the eight-year-old

An eight-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has settled for €4.85m in her action for damages over injuries sustained at her birth.

The latest and final settlement in the case of Kate Murphy from Co Tipperary brings to a total of €6.5m paid out to the little girl who suffered brain injuries.

Three years ago South Tipperary General Hospital apologised before the High Court over failings resulting in serious brain injuries to Kate when she was born in 2005.

Approving the latest settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross yesterday said to bring finality to the situation was in his personal opinion preferable to numerous applications in stages to the court.

The judge said it was a very good thing for Kate and her family that the matter has been settled.
 
"It is a prudent and wise settlement of the matter," Mr Justice Cross said.

The court previously heard the Murphy family wanted to finalise the legal action with a lump sum payment rather than return to court for interim payments every few years.

In 2011 Kate received a €1.3m interim payment and another €400,000 at a later stage.

Through her mother Sarah Murphy, The Valley, Fethard, Co Tipperary, Kate had sued the HSE over alleged negligence and breach of duty in the circumstances of her birth at South Tipperary General Hospital in September 2005. 

Three years ago Counsel for the HSE told the court management and staff at South Tipperary General Hospital wanted to  express their sincere apologies for the failings that caused the injuries to Kate and the consequential trauma experienced by the child and her family.

"They understand that neither this apology nor the financial compensation granted by the court can negate the continuing heartache that the Murphy family must feel every day and appreciate that this continues to be a very difficult time for them", Oonagh McCrann SC said.

Denis McCullough SC, for Kate, said Sarah Murphy was admitted on 19 September 2005 to the hospital's maternity unit as a private patient.

At the time, she was complaining of irregular contractions. 

On 20 September, Ms Murphy felt a violent movement in her abdomen which hurt her.

A midwife examined her and said she had two options: to call the consultant or "tough it out" until the morning.

Ms Murphy had felt obliged to opt for the latter option because of the midwife's advice, counsel said.

Later that day, Ms Murphy was transferred to theatre and the child was born by Caesarean Section. 

Both mother and daughter were in poor condition afterwards and Kate was initially transferred to Waterford Regional Hospital.

She was later transferred to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London, via a specially chartered aircraft, for specialised treatment.

Within months, it became clear Kate's head was not developing as it should because her brain was damaged, counsel said. 

He said Kate can jump skip and walk, but her balance is not very good and she falls if she runs.