Monthly Archives: February 2015

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.

Compensation for Mismanaged Birth Approved in Court


A young child has been awarded a seven-figure settlement of compensation for birth injuries resulting from a mismanaged birth.

Kevin Dunphy-English was born at the Waterford Regional Hospital on the 9th July 2010. Upon his birth, the baby – who now lives in Mooncoin in County Kilkenny – was diagnosed as “neurologically compromised”. For over three weeks after his delivery, Kevin was in an intensive care unit. He suffers from cerebral palsy, and can currently only walk for short distances – in the future, he will be reliant on the use of a wheelchair for movement.

Jane, Kevin’s mother, made a claim for his mismanaged birth and resulting injuries on behalf of her son against the Waterford Regional Hospital. In the claim, she alleges that though a foetal blood sample was taken at 1:40 am, there was no record of the foetal heart rate until 2:30 am.

The legal action claims that, had medical staff taken another blood sample after the foetal heart rate was detected, the decision to intervene in Kevin’s death would have been made sooner. An investigation carried out into the allegations of a mismanaged birth discovered that, had Kevin been delivered an hour earlier, he would not have sustained his current injures.

Though the Health Service Executives (HSE) acknowledged that Kevin’s birth was not adequately managed, and that there was negligence on Waterford Regional Hospital’s part for not delivering Kevin quickly enough. Through negotiation, they settled compensation claims made for Kevin’s injuries and for the nervous shock suffered by his parents. However, as the claim was made on behalf of a minor the settlement had to be approved by the courts.

Before the High Court hearing was to commence, Mr Justice Kevin Cross met Kevin in his chambers. Judge Cross was told of Kevin’s progress at pre-school, and his parents’ hopes that he will be in a mainstream class when he goes to primary school. Kevin was termed “a lovely little lad” by the judge, and his parents were commended for their dedication to their son.

Kevin was awarded €2 million in compensation for the injuries he sustained as a result of his mismanaged birth. However, this is but an interim settlement and the case was adjourned for five years such that an assessment damages could be conducted. Once this has been carried out, Kevin’s parents will be offered either a lump sum or a structured scheme of periodic payments.