Birth Injury Settlement Awarded After 18 Day Delay

Dublin’s High Court have approved a multi-million euro settlement for a child that was born with severe injuries because of a delayed delivery. 

When Alex Butler was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, she was described as “blue and lifeless”. This was because a doctor, who was substituting for Alex’s mother’s regular obstetrician, did not diagnosed that there were complications in Alex’s birth. As a result, there was a delay of ten minutes in her delivery. 

During this time, Alex was started of oxygen in the womb and sustained severe damage to her brain. Despite this, Alex is described as possessing a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”. However, she is also tetraplegic and relies on a wheelchair for movement. She will need round-the-clock care for the rest of her life. 

Acting on behalf of her daughter, Sonya Butler made a claim for Alex’s birth injuries against the Health Service Executive and Waterford Regional Hospital. The HSE acknowledged liability for Alex’s injuries, and negotiated with the family to organise an interim settlement of compensation in 2013 such that  structured settlement of periodic payments could be introduced. As a result the case was adjourned for two years. 

However, the legislation required for such a periodic settlement to be established was never introduced. As such, the family returned to the High Court, where their case was overseen by Mr Justice Anthony Barr. 

To begin the hearing, an apology was read to Alex and her parents by a spokesperson representing Waterford Regional Hospital. However, after this the parties could not agree as to how much compensation Alex was entitled to due to her severe disabilities. 

The parties continued to negotiate the settlement for eighteen days after the initial hearing. Eventually, an agreement was reached, and a €9 million settlement of compensation was approved by Judge Barr in the High Court. The judge commented that the settlement was both reasonable and fair. 

Alex’s parents were shocked and disappointed at the protracted negotiations, with Sonya criticising the State Claims Agency when speaking with reporters after the announcement of the settlement: “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”