A €32 million highest ever medical negligence compensation award has been approved for a nine-year-old boy, Benjamin Gillick, who sustained permanent brain damage after medical staff made a delayed diagnosis of infection following surgery when he was just an infant.
It is the biggest ever settlement this kind to be approved in the Irish State. However, Benjamin’s parents, Miriam and Andrew Gillick, informed the court that they believed the money was not a sufficient amount for the rest of his life. They stated: “It leaves us with a shortfall that will be imposed on ourselves or our children, or possibly our grandchildren.”
When added to the interim settlement of €7.4m three years ago, tt brings to more than €32m the total amount of the compensation awarded.
Presiding Judge Justice Kevin Cross explained that only a portion of the money, under €500,000 was compensation for the catastrophic injuries inflicted on Benjamin and that the majority of the award is for the cost of Benjamin’s complex treatment, educational and accommodation needs for the rest of his life.
In giving his approval for a final settlement offer of €25m, he said: “When the headlines come to be written it should be noted that no one is getting a bonanza”.
Justice Cross said that Benjamin would only have been awarded approximately €450,000 in relation to general damages for the injuries he had sustained. The rest of the money to be made by the Children’s University Hospital at Temple Street to cover the costs of his future medical treatment.
The reason, according to the judge, that the figure was so high in this case was due to the fact that “thankfully he has a higher life expectancy and would have to be cared for long after his parents have departed”. The judge said it was very difficult to accurately calculate what will happen in 60 years’ time.
The boy’s father, Andrew Gillick, outliend to the Court that his concern is in relation to the money being insufficient when compared to rates of return on investment in England, where the family now resides. He added that there has recently been a similar case decided in England in the order of €45m due to the costs of carers, therapies, aids and appliances, transport and education.
Benjamin was born prematurely, who is one of identical twin boys in Dublin. He is an identical twin and later had a procedure at 11 months at Temple Street Children’s Hospital to drain fluid on the brain. A shunt was placed to address this and the boy was later returned to hospital due to vomiting and feeling unwell.
The court was told that a shunt infection is a known complication of the process and the cause of the negligence was that for up to three days this possibility was not looked into. The court was informed that Benjamin suffers with cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, and cannot communicate verbally.