Monthly Archives: May 2015

Judge Barton Lends Support to Structured Payment Systems for Hospital Negligence Compensation Settlements

Hospital negligence compensation settlements may be resolved by a structured payment system in future after High Court judge shows support for the idea.

Several high-profile High Court judges have previously commented that there is a need for legislation to enable structured payment systems for hospital negligence compensation settlements-including Mr Justice John Quirke, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, and Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill. They suggested that the way in which such claims are settled at the moment can be a lottery on the basis of the anticipated life expectancy of a seriously injured victim.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton added his support to the movement last month, whilst presiding over the O’Neill vs National Maternity Hospital, a case involving a young girl born in the hospital in 2007. She suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of negligence by the hospital staff in regards to her birth. The defendants admit liability for her injuries, and wants to make an interim settlement of compensation. However, the mother of the young girl wants to a full settlement to be offered. Neither party can agree as to how much compensation the girl is entitled to.

The hospital wants to make an interim settlement of compensation as there is considerable conflict between parties about the costs of the girl’s future needs and potential loss of earnings. Therefore, offering an interim settlement would allow to compile a report over the next ten years to more accurately assess the correct settlement figure. However, her mother declined this settlement, on the grounds that her daughter may suffer psychological harm during ten years of continuous assessment.

The judge and both parties agreed that if structured payment systems were in place, it would be easier to resolve the dispute over how much compensation the girl-or any catastrophically injured plaintiff-should receive. Negotiations in this case continue, with hopes of them reaching an end in the near future.

Judge Approves Interim Compensation for Inappropriate Use of Syntocinon

A judge at the High Court in Dublin has approved an interim settlement of compensation for inappropriate use of Syntocinon during labour, which resulted in a baby boy being born with kinetic cerebral palsy.

Patrick Brannigan (7) was born by emergency Caesarean Section at Cavan General Hospital in July 2007. To aid with her labour, his mother-Niamh Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan-was administered a dose of the drug.

However, a CTG trace had shown that the unborn baby was in distress in the womb, suggesting that Syntocinon should not be used. When the drug was administered, instead of speeding up labour, it deprived Patrick of oxygen.

As a result, he was born with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Patrick is now confined to a wheelchair, and will never be able to live a life independent of his parents. He has no proper means of combination with others.

On behalf of her son, Niamh made a claim for the inappropriate use of the synthetic drug, claiming that the medical staff at the hospital had mismanaged the birth, thus resulting in Patrick being born with the disease.

The defendants admitted liability for the injury, acknowledging that Syntocinon should not have been administered in that case, given the evidence of foetal distress. An apology was issued to the family, and interim compensation of €2.1million was offered as settlement. Seeing as Patrick was a minor, such compensation needed to be approved by a judge in court.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the case at the Dublin High Court earlier this week. The circumstances surrounding the birth were presented to him, and he heard that Patrick was a cheerful and good-natured boy. As a result, he approved the interim settlement of compensation for inappropriate use of Syntocinon.

Judge Cross adjourned the claim for three years so that Patrick’s future needs could be thoroughly assessed. It is hoped that legislation will soon be passed so that the family could receive periodic payments to settle the claim for inappropriate use of the drug during labour.