On 19th February 2016, Mr Justice Cross in the High Court, approved a settlement achieved by Augustus Cullen Law in a very complex claim on behalf of an 8 year old boy who, it was alleged, suffered a brain injury due to undiagnosed hydrocephalus in the months following his birth. The Plaintiff was born with an arachnoid cyst in the posterior fossa area of his brain, which cyst was noted, but his parents were advised that same was unlikely to cause him any harm over his life. His parents kept him under the review of the Second Named Defendant due to the fact that he was born with this cyst.
The Plaintiff’s head circumference was within normal limits at the time of his birth, but same increased significantly between the ages of 4 months and 9 months. The Plaintiff’s legal team alleged that the failure by both the Public Health Nurses assessing the Plaintiff and the Paediatrician reviewing him to record and/or plot his head circumference on a centile chart, was negligent and that proper care would have led to timely medical intervention in treating this abnormally rapid increase in head circumference. One of the known risks associated with the cyst with which the Plaintiff was born, was the risk of him developing hydrocephalus. It was the Plaintiff’s case that the increasing head circumference measurements should have resulted in a referral for neurosurgical review and that the Plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the delay in diagnosing and treating the hydrocephalus.
Liability was not admitted by the Defendants in the proceedings and initially, both negligence and causation were denied. However, the Second Named Defendant then admitted negligence at an assessment which occurred when the Plaintiff was 7 months of age, but denied that this breach of duty had any role in causing the Plaintiff’s injuries. The Plaintiff suffers from developmental delay, does not use speech, has some minor motor problems and has been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum.
The Plaintiff’s experts all felt that there was clear breach of duty in the case and that the Plaintiff’s injuries were caused by this and could have been avoided with timely intervention. However, causation in the case was extremely complex and strongly disputed by the Defendant’s experts who felt that the Plaintiff’s difficulties were not consistent with an injury caused by undiagnosed hydrocephalus. They felt that the Plaintiff’s lack of major motor problems, together with his autistic spectrum disorder and the fact that he did not speak, were not consistent with this cause and could be attributable to an unidentified genetic abnormality or associated with the arachnoid cyst, with which he was born.
The case was ruled before Mr Justice Cross on 19th February 2016 for a total lump sum amount of €1.9 million plus costs, most of which was required for care and therapy for the Plaintiff.
If you have any further queries, please contact Joice Carthy, Managing Partner.
22 April 2016