A nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who sued over the care provided to him and his mother at the time of his birth at Portiuncula Hospital, Galway has settled a High Court action for €14 million.
Henry James Nally, his counsel told the High Court, suffered a catastrophic injury and has diplegic cerebral palsy. He has to use a wheelchair and cannot speak or write properly.
The baby at the time of his birth at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, it was claimed, developed a Group B Streptococcus infection and then meningitis and septicaemia and became gravely ill.
Richard Kean SC with Esther Earley BL said it was the Nally’s case that antibiotics should have been administered to the mother, who had a high temperature, and the baby, which would have killed the bacteria in his brain.
Counsel said a medical expert on the Nally side contended had baby Henry been started on antibiotics about four hours earlier, the number of bacteria in his blood would have been reduced which would have led to a reduction in motor and cognitive impairment.
Counsel said it was their case that there was alleged substandard treatment at Portiuncula Hospital, and it should have been obvious the baby was at risk of infection.
He said when baby Henry was transferred to a Dublin hospital, he received the antibiotics, but counsel said it was “way too little and way too late.”
Mr Kean said meningitis and septicaemia had infected the brain. Henry was placed in an induced coma for three weeks and later diagnosed with diplegic cerebral palsy.
The settlement against the HSE, which was reached after five days of mediation, is without an admission of liability.
Outside court, solicitor Keira O’Reilly, head of litigation at Keans Solicitors, said the Nally family are both satisfied and relieved the legal case has been resolved following extremely protracted and difficult negotiations at mediation.
“Whilst the matter has now settled, liability was always fully in issue with each and every aspect of the case challenged,” she said.
She added: “The Nallys feel they have finally been vindicated after years of stress and turmoil, and they have today secured an immense victory for their precious son Henry.”
She said when people hear of vast sums of money being obtained in cases of this nature, many believe it must be like winning the lotto for the family.
“As a solicitor specialising in this area, I can assure you it most certainly is not. The family would give it all back in an instant, and more, if the events of August 15th, 2012 could be changed. This of course is not possible, and the settlement secured reflects the lost opportunities for Henry,” Ms O’Reilly said.
She said the lump sum settlement will not change Henry’s condition or prognosis, but it will allow him to live his life to the best of his abilities “which is the very least he deserves.”
It will provide him with access to therapies, assistive technology, aids, appliances and so much more
“It will provide him with access to therapies, assistive technology, aids, appliances and so much more that he would not have been able to have otherwise,” she said.
Henry’s mother Deborah Nally outside court said the settlement achieved will secure all of Henry’s needs going forward.
“Henry is now nine years of age and is a witty, determined and very sociable little boy who always lights up a room with his smile. He has a very close bond with his brother Luke who is always looking out for him and protecting him,” she said.
She thanked their families and close friends for all their support over the years.
Henry James Nally of Ballyglunin, Tuam, Co Galway had through his mother Deborah Nally sued the HSE over the care provided at the time of his on August 15th, 2012 and his care at Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway.
Henry’s mother was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital on August 14th, 2012. It was claimed that Ms Nally felt unwell and complained to staff that she was feeling extremely hot and found it difficult to breathe.
Henry was delivered at 2.09am on August 15th. It was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly diagnose, treat and care for the baby and mother.
There was also, it was contended, an alleged failure to diagnose with urgency that the baby’s mother had GBS Septicaemia and there was an alleged failure to act on this finding and treat it with urgency.
There was, it was further claimed, an alleged failure to recognise in a timely manner the risks associated with the condition for the baby and an alleged failure to act and treat the baby appropriately and with urgency.
There was, it was claimed, an alleged failure to administer broad spectrum intravenous antibiotics to the mother and commence foetal monitoring of the baby.
There was, it was further claimed, an alleged failure to monitor the baby post-delivery for signs of infection and an alleged failure to take any adequate heed of the fact that the baby was not feeding properly, was unsettled and demonstrating signs of infection.
All the claims were denied.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and reasonable, and he noted there were litigation risks in the case. He wished Henry and his family the best for the future.