Medical Negligence Claim Heard in High Court

A family have been awarded €2.75 million as an interim settlement of compensation for negligence of their consultant obstetrician.

In November 2001, James McCarthy of Clonmel, County Tipperary was born by emergency Caesarean Section at thirty-three weeks. A scan revealed that his twin brother had died in the womb, prompting the emergency medical actions. The baby boy was born with severe disabilities, and diagnosed with cerebral palsy a year after he was born.

On behalf of their son, James Cooney and Linda McCarthy made an injury compensation claim against Dr Raymond Howard-working at St Joseph’s Hospital-the consultant obstetrician who had looked after Linda during the later stages of her pregnancy with James.

Linda claimed that she had been referred to St Joseph’s Hospital for ante natal care and was seen by Dr Howard’s registrar. A scan was conducted, and the registrar wanted to admit Linda to hospital immediately over concerns of the twins that she was carrying.

Dr Howard dismissed his registrar’s concerns, and told Linda that she was to return to him a week later. When she did, a scan revealed that one of the twins that she was carrying had died during that time. This prompted them to deliver James by Caesarean Section immediately. Due to the trauma that James suffered in the womb, he is dependant on his parents for life, as he is unable to walk, talk or sit up by himself.

Linda stated that, although Dr Howard was her obstetrician, the first time that they had actually met was the day after her son was born. She alleged that neither her health not her son’s had been investigated, monitored, diagnosed or treated during the latter part of her pregnancy. She further claimed that James’ injuries could have been avoided in the doctor had taken greater care.

Dr Howard admitted liability for the young boy’s injuries and, at the Dublin High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed that an interim settlement of compensation of €2.75 million had been agreed upon.

The judge approved this settlement, and adjourned the case for a further three years so that an investigation into James’ future needs could be completed.