Augustus Cullen Law have recently won a significant case arising out of severe injuries suffered by a young girl, Emily Casey, in the course of spinal surgery which was carried out in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.
Emily had developed scoliosis on foot of injuries she had suffered due to meningitis when she was an infant. Surgery was planned to take place in December 2009 to insert rods into Emily’s spine in order to correct the curve caused by her scoliosis. The operation took place on 8th December 2009. Tragically, it became apparent in the post-operative period that Emily had suffered paralysis as she was unable to move her legs. She was returned to theatre to have the instrumentation removed from her spine but never recovered the use of her legs and was left paralysed from the mid chest down and also incontinent.
Despite the severity of Emily’s injuries, her family were never given a clear explanation regarding how such injuries had been caused. Augustus Cullen Law were consulted as Emily’s family had a number of concerns in relation to the manner in which the operation had been carried out. We subsequently carried out a full investigation of the circumstances surrounding Emily’s care and obtained independent expert evidence which confirmed that Emily’s injuries had been caused by a misplaced screw which was inserted during her operation and which had penetrated the spinal cord. Evidence was also obtained in relation to numerous serious deficiencies concerning the spinal cord monitoring which was in place during the operation.
Proceedings were issued in the High Court in August 2012 and a full Defence, denying all allegations of negligence, was filed on behalf of the Defendants in December 2013. The matter was subsequently progressed and was listed for hearing before the High Court on 6th May 2015. However, just days before the trial was due to commence the Defendant’s conceded liability for Emily’s injuries. Settlement negotiations subsequently ensued in which it was agreed that the Defendant’s would pay damages of almost €1.67m in respect of the Plaintiff’s general damages for pain and suffering, the costs of her out of pocket expenses and care to date and her future requirements in terms of aids, appliances and physiotherapy. The Plaintiff’s claim in respect of the cost of future care, accommodation, assistive technology and medical treatment was adjourned for hearing at a later date.
However, on foot of further negotiations the Defendants agreed to pay a further sum of €3.18m in respect of future care, accommodation, assistive technology and future medical costs. The total compensation recovered by Emily is therefore the sum of €4.85m. In addition, the Defendants gave a full apology in Court to Emily and her family for the injuries which she suffered and for the tragic consequences of those injuries. The settlement of this case was approved in the High Court by Mr. Justice Kevin Cross who commented that this was an excellent outcome for Emily and one which he had no hesitation in approving.
For further information please contact either Neil Kidd or Michael Boylan in our Medical Negligence Department.
To view media reports of this case please click on the below links:
07 August 2015