Boy (4) settles birth injury case for a record €17.2 million

A disabled 4-year-old boy who sued over the circumstances of his birth at Midwestern Regional Maternity Hospital in Limerick has secured a total €17.2 million in final settlement of his legal action.

The settlement, against the HSE, was achieved following mediation.

A €15.5m lump sum payment approved by the president of the High Court on Friday brings to €17.2m the total settlement for Charlie Enright, believed to be the highest ever in a birth injury case.

Charlie, from Raheen, Ballyneety, Co Limerick, has cerebral palsy and is physically disabled.

In a statement issues outside court, his parents Caitriona and Anthony Enright said they could now get on with their lives.

“What Charlie lost in August 2013 is priceless. No amount of money can replace it. We are happy with the settlement,” they said.

Approving the settlement earlier, Mr Justice Peter Kelly praised the parents and family for their care for Charlie, saying care was a “family affair” and the extended family had all got together to care for “a remarkable boy”.

Two years ago, Charlie settled his case against the HSE with a first interim payment of €1.75m to cover his needs for two years. The €15.5m is intended to cover all future care needs.

Mrs Enright told the court Charlie was a remarkable and happy little boy.

“We have so much joy along with all the pain,” she told the judge.

When liability was admitted early in the case it eased the burden for her, she said.

“It eased a burden and also in my head the burden of was it me? It became clear it was not me and I could move on a bit.”

She said they had started to build a house specially adapted for Charlie beside the family home.

Her son’s physical ability had got much better but he was “locked in and communication is a big problem”, she said.

They had discussed at length whether to opt for a lump sum payment and decided on that because they considered the preparation of periodic payment applications, where Charlie would have to undergo many medical examinations, was imposing too much strain on the family.

Mrs Enright, who has taken a career break to care for her son, also said he was starting at the local school in September.

Through his mother, Charlie had sued the HSE in relation to his birth at the Limerick hospital in August 2013.

Mrs Enright was admitted to the hospital at 37 weeks pregnant on August 19th 2013 and it was decided to induce labour after several tests were carried out.

It was claimed, in the events that followed, there was a breach of duty with alleged failure to provide an appropriate standard of care during the labour and up to the time of Charlie’s birth on August 20th 2013.

It was claimed there was a belated recognition of foetal distress and misinterpretation of the CTG tracing.

It was further claimed there was failure to supervise delivery of the baby either adequately or at all and that hyper-simulation was caused by continued infusion of syntocinon.

Charlie was flat at birth – with irregular breathing – and was transferred to Cork University Hospital for head cooling.

An MRI scan showed evidence of intra cranial haemorrhage. He was later transferred back to the Midwestern Regional Hospital in Limerick and discharged home at the end of September 2013.

Liam Reidy SC, for the parents, told the court they were adamant they wanted to opt for a final lump sum settlement.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kelly said it was a good settlement and it was very easy to understand why the parents had taken the decision to take a full and final payment.

The fact Charlie will attend the local school where seven of his cousins also attend would be of substantial benefit to the boy, the judge added, and congratulated the parents for arranging that.

© The Irish Times

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