On 17th February 2015, Mr Justice Cross in the High Court approved a settlement reached by Augustus Cullen Law in a claim on behalf of a 3 year old girl, Skye Worthington, who it was alleged suffered from asphyxia during labour and delivery. Skye’s legal team alleged that her injuries arose from failures by Midwives and obstetric staff caring for Skye and her mother during labour and delivery to react appropriately to an abnormal CTG trace. In particular, it was alleged that Skye became distressed during labour and that the CTG trace recording baby Skye’s heart rate in utero and her mother’s contraction rate, was abnormal and should have led to earlier delivery by emergency caesarean section. The Plaintiff’s legal team alleged that had she been born even 15-20 minutes earlier, she would have avoided her catastrophic injuries.
Skye suffers from Cerebral Palsy affecting all four of her limbs. She cannot walk or talk and suffers from epilepsy which is not completely controlled with medication. She is fed by a gastrostomy tube and has very significant limitations of her motor function. However, Skye’s cognitive function is largely preserved and despite her motor problems, she communicates using an Eye Gaze communication system. Physically however, she is dependent on others for all of her daily living activities including feeding, personal care, communication etc and benefits from technology to help her to communicate and to maximise her independence.
Shortly after Skye’s birth at Kerry General Hospital on 22nd April 2011, an independent review of the CTG trace during labour was sought from a Professor of Obstetrics in a nearby Hospital. That Professor’s findings, which were accepted by Kerry General Hospital, were that the CTG trace was abnormal for significant periods during labour and that at the very latest, a fetal blood sample or delivery should have been performed at approximately 15.00hrs, 1 hour and 45 minutes before Skye was actually born.
Proceedings issued in the case in December 2012 and a Defence was delivered in October 2013. In the Defence, the Defendant did not admit liability and required the Plaintiffs to prove each and every allegation of negligence and causation of injury set out in the Personal Injuries Summons. The matter was fixed for Trial for 17th February 2015 and a settlement meeting was held on 9th February 2015 and the matter settled on that date for an interim payment of €2.52 million to cover a three year period.
At the ruling of the settlement before Mr Justice Cross on 17th February 2015, liability was admitted by the Defendants and a written apology was delivered to the Plaintiff’s family which stated:
"HSE South/South West Hospital Group and the Maternity Department of Kerry General Hospital wish to apologise unreservedly to you and your family for the birth injury caused to your daughter Skye at the time of her delivery. Whilst it was not intentional and it cannot be undone, we have learned lessons from the management of Skye’s birth by having a formal review of which you were part. This has helped clarify a number of important issues.
I do not underestimate how traumatic this has been for you and your family, but I can assure you that lessons have been learnt and acted upon with the ultimate aim of ensuring the safety of our patients at all times.
On behalf of the HSE, we are truly sorry for what occurred."
The Plaintiff’s claim included claims for suitable accommodation, carers to look after the Plaintiff, Speech & Language Therapy, Assistive Technology, Aids & Appliances, Physiotherapy and a Special Needs Assistant.
The matter was ruled on 17th February 2015 with a three year interim payment of €2.52 million plus costs.
If you have any further queries, please contact Joice Carthy, Managing Partner.
09 March 2015