Cork boy who suffered brain damage at birth is awarded €23 million in largest ever settlement against HSE

Cork boy who suffered brain damage at birth is awarded €23 million in largest ever settlement against HSE
Lee Gibson from Carrigaline, with his mum, Aileen - pictured outside the Four Courts in 2015.

A 14-year old boy who it is claimed suffered brain damage at birth in a Cork hospital has settled his action against the HSE with a final once-off lump sum payment of €20million.

This brings to €23million the total paid to Lee Gibson of Carrigaline, who has cerebral palsy, cannot talk and has to use a wheelchair.

The settlement against the HSE is the largest so far in the State for this type of action.

Approving the final figure, the president of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly paid tribute to the teenager’s 32-year old mother Aileen Gibson, who he said was doing a great job looking after her son.

“Lee makes the best of a life that is possible because of the care of his mother, grandmother and other family support” the judge said and thanked Ms Gibson for the care she has given him.

Four years ago an interim settlement payment of €2million was approved for Lee and in 2017 a further interim payment of €1million was made. On those occasions, liability was also settled in the case.

Outside court today, Lee’s mother Aileen Gibson said the settlement monies will be spent for Lee’s benefit and allow his family to give him the therapies and care he requires for the duration of his life.

Lee Gibson earlier this yearPicture: Jim Coughlan.
Lee Gibson earlier this yearPicture: Jim Coughlan.

It will also mean, she said they can plan their future without the need for future litigation.

“I must say that today is bittersweet, all the money won’t change what has happened to Lee. We will have to live with that pain forever,” she added.

Lee Gibson had through his mother Aileen Gibson, Carrigaline, sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at St Finbarr's Hospital, Cork on July 5, 2005.

It was claimed Lee suffered a number of injuries to his brain due to a lack of oxygen and the effect of an untreated infection suffered by his mother.

It was also claimed there was an alleged delay of between 91 to 106 minutes before delivery by emergency caesarean section once the decision for an emergency caesarean had been made.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to treat the case as an emergency case and an alleged failure to give a candid explanation for what happened and why.

The claims were denied, but liability was later settled in the case.

Lee’s legal counsel John Lucey SC instructed by Orla Kelly of Cantillon Solicitors told the court today the advice from financial experts was not to accept an annual periodic payment order in Lee’s case and that is was in the boy’s best interests to proceed by way of a lump sum payment. 

Counsel said Ms Gibson who had devoted her life to the care of her son was anxious for a final payment and to conclude the matter.

Ms Gibson in evidence said her son loves school and is now doing better since they moved to a purpose-built specially adapted house where he can have certain therapies. 

She said she wanted a final lump sum payment so that they can plan for the future.

“It’s time for us to move on with our lives,“ she told the judge.

She said her son was very independent and can now communicate with the help of modern technology.

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Peter Kelly said mediation talks had taken place between the sides in the last few days. 

The judge said he was satisfied it was a settlement that ought to be approved. The funds he said will help Lee live with the proper standard of support for the rest of his life.

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