Court Resolves Claim for Erb’s Palsy

A claim for compensation made by an eleven-year-old girl who was injured at birth has been resolved in court without an admission of liability.

When Keelan Murray was born in January 2004 at the National Maternity Hospital, she was diagnosed with shoulder dystocia. This is a dangerous, emergency condition that occurs when the infant’s shoulders fail to clear the mother’s pubis symphsis. It can lead to damage of the brachial plexus nerve if excessive force is used to free the baby. This may heal over time, but for Keelan, the injury remained permanent, resulting in a diagnosis of Erb’s palsy.

Keelan, who lives in Newtownmountkennedy in Co. Wicklow, has never gained motor control over her right arm and is now reliant just on her left hand for most tasks. She has also been forced to learn how to write with her left hand, which was unnatural for her.

In 2012, a surgery was undertaken that attempted to repair the damage, but it was unsuccessful. Sharon, Keelan’s mother, made a claim for compensation for the birth injury against the National Maternity Hospital. The claim alleges that excess force was used to free Keelan of the birth canal, despite the fact dystocia had already been diagnosed.

The hospital denied any liability for Keelan’s injuries, though negotiations continued to proceed between the parties. Eventually, a compensation settlement of €250,000 was negotiated between the parties, though the hospital never admitted liability.

However, as the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the case needed to proceed to court so the compensation claim could be approved by a judge. This ensures that the settlement is in the minor’s best interest. The case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court in Dublin.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that Keelan actively participated in many sports activities in despite of her disability. He ruled that it was prudent to accept the compensation settlement for Erb’s palsy without the admission of liability, and finished by wishing Keelan well for the future.