Tuesday, January 17, 2023

High Court reporters

An 8-year-old boy with autism who sued over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital has settled his High Court action with an interim settlement of €2.95 million.

It was claimed there was a delay in the delivery of Shane Keating Fitzgerald from Knocknahenny, Co Cork, the High Court heard.

When he was three-years-old, the boy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The court heard the case against the HSE was settled without an admission of liability. It represents 75 per cent of the full value of the case.

The 25 per cent discount related to the issues in the case around liability and causation. The interim settlement which was reached after mediation is for the next five years. The HSE had denied all the claims.

Shane’s counsel Jonathan Kilfeather SC, instructed by Michael Boylan solicitor, told the court his side were alleging that the boy’s autism was “as a result of the deprivation of oxygen at birth”.

The boy’s case will come back before the court in five years’ time when his future care needs will be decided.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it reflected the litigation risk in the case.

The judge said he saluted Shane’s parents, Vicky Fitzgerald and Patrick Keating, for the care they have given their son since his birth, and he conveyed his very best wishes to Shane and his family.

This settlement will help him get the therapies he needs.

Outside court Ms Fitzgerald said the family was relieved the legal proceedings were over.

“Shane has brought us so much joy. He is a great child who hugs us so much. This settlement will help him get the therapies he needs,” she said.

Shane Keating Fitzgerald, of Knocknaheeny, Co Cork, had through his mother, Vicky Fitzgerald, sued the HSE.

Ms Fitzgerald was admitted to Cork University Maternity Hospital on March 13th, 2014 for induction of labour.

It was claimed that from about 7.15pm there was evidence of acute foetal compromise with the heart rate causing concern from 7.16pm onwards. There was, it was claimed, therefore a degree of urgency to deliver the baby.

A ventouse was applied but there were three unsuccessful pulls and, it was claimed, forceps were applied but failed to achieve delivery. Ms Fitzgerald was transferred to the theatre and the baby was born at 8.o5pm.

Baby Shane had to be resuscitated after delivery.

He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and a diagnosis of severe perinatal asphyxia and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy was made. The boy’s brain was cooled for 72 hours.

It was claimed there was a failure to exercise any or any proper or adequate care for the safety and well-being of the mother and baby.

It was claimed there was an unnecessary delay in the delivery of the baby and an alleged failure to ensure the safety and timely delivery in all the circumstances. All the claims were denied.

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