MM v RH
The Plaintiff was born in the Defendant hospital in September 2006. Her delivery was complicated by shoulder dystocia and she was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit following birth. There was no movement in her left arm and upper limb and a diagnosis of left Erb’s Palsy was subsequently made. It was the Plaintiff’s case that prior to her shoulder being disimpacted from the obstruction preventing her delivery, excessive traction was applied to her head permanently damaging her left brachial plexus. The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that conducts signals from the spine to the shoulder, arm, and hand. Damage to those nerves may cause symptoms to include a limp or paralyzed arm; lack of muscle control in the arm, hand, or wrist; and a lack of feeling or sensation in the arm or hand. The Plaintiff sustained one of the most severe obstetrical brachial plexus injuries at birth and has required two surgical interventions to date. Whilst she has made good progress, it is likely that she will require further surgical intervention in the future.
This case largely revolved around a dispute on the facts between the Defendant hospital and the parents of the Plaintiff. According to the contemporaneous medical records, the shoulder dystocia was resolved using the McRoberts Maneuver, suprapubic pressure, and internal maneuvers. These are first line maneuvers prescribed by the Defendant Hospital protocol dealing with Shoulder Dystocia. The Plaintiff was then delivered by four pulls on the Ventouse cup. These contemporaneous medical records directly contradict the version of events as recollected by the Plaintiff’s parents. According to the parents, no such maneuver was carried out, no such pressure was applied, the doctors attempting the Ventouse delivery pulled continuously with what appeared to be excessive force, and the number of medical personnel actively partaking in the delivery were insufficient to allow for these maneuvers to be carried out.
Proceedings were issued on the 08th March 2010 and a Defence was delivered on the 14th March 2011. The Defence denied any liability on the part of the Defendant hospital and specifically pleaded that excessive traction was not applied and the aforesaid maneuvers were carried out. The case was listed for trial on the 13th June 2012, and was called on for hearing before Mr. Justice Ryan. Subsequent to the action being called on for hearing, settlement talks took place between the parties. The case ultimately settled for the sum of €425,000, which approximated in our view to 50% of the full value of the case. In reaching the compromised settlement, account was taken of the risk that the version of events as expressed by the Plaintiff’s parents, although absolutely clear and adamant in their recollection, would ultimately not be accepted by the trial Judge given the position of the Defendants as set out in the Defence.
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29 June 2012