High Court Approves Compensation for Newborn Death

The High Court of Dublin has awarded €98,000 to a couple who brought a case against the Health Service Executives alleging that they had mismanaged their daughter’s birth.

The couple, who have remained anonymous, welcomed the birth of their daughter on the 15th July 2010 at the Limerick Regional Maternity Hospital. However, the little girl died just six hours later. The couple, from Ballyneety in Co. Limerick, alleged that their daughter died due to severe failings by medical staff at the hospital.

The couple claimed that their baby had been born healthy, but had suffered a severe loss of blood that led to her untimely death. The Limerick couple alleged that attending the birth did not detect the blood loss in time.

In their legal action, the couple claimed that their little girl was elevated higher than the placenta such that the umbilical cord would untangle. However, they allege that the staff did not adequately clamp the umbilical cord to prevent extreme blood loss.

The HSE denied that it had mismanaged the girl’s birth and presented evidence that their practices had not caused her death. However, though they never admitted liability, the HSE did offer the couple €98,000 in compensation to account for the emotional trauma they endured after the loss of their baby.

The settlement had to be approved by a High Court judge before it could be awarded. Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings at the approval hearing, where he was told that the parties still disputed the cause of the little girl’s death. He was also told how the baby had become listless and collapsed, and subsequently died six hours after her birth.

Representatives of the HSE read a statement of regret during the hearing, after which the judge approved the settlement for compensation. He also offered his own sympathies to the couple for their suffering.