A 25-year-old Cork woman with cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of her hospital birth has settled her action against the HSE for a total of €35.2million.
The settlement in the case of Shauni Breen from Togher, Cork is the highest ever payout in a personal injuries case alleging injury at birth.
She had sued the HSE over the circumstances of her birth at Wexford General Hospital in 1997. The settlement is without an admission of liability and will be paid out in stages.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey approved a final settlement package of €33.25million for the young woman in the High Court today which, along with an interim payment of €1.95million five years ago, brings the total final settlement in the case to €35.2million.
Her counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC with Cian O’Mahony BL told the court it was a very sad and tragic case.
Counsel said there was a lapse of forty minutes between the delivery of Shauni and her twin sister. He said she suffered profound disabilities.
She is, counsel said, “a very much loved and adored member of her family".
"Her family deserve the greatest compliments and they all dote on Shauni," counsel said.
Counsel said the settlement is the highest ever in the High Court in this jurisdiction.
Shauni, who is one of twin girls, was born about 40 minutes after her healthy twin sister. Shauni has cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia and uses a wheelchair, counsel told the court.
Shauni Breen from Togher, Cork city had sued the HSE over the circumstances of her birth in 1997.
It was claimed on December 30, 1997, when the twins were 33 weeks and three days, their mother, Marie Foley, was admitted to Wexford General Hospital with contractions at 5am. Shauni's infant twin, Nicole, was born healthy at 6.10am.
It was further claimed the second stage of labour for Shauni lasted forty minutes. It was claimed the management of her birth was allegedly incompetent.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to have an anaesthetist present for the birth and there was an alleged failure to have a full team in attendance ready and prepared for every eventuality. There was also, it was claimed, an alleged failure to recognise it was a high-risk labour.
All the claims were denied and the HSE contended the management of the birth complied with general and approved practice and the treatment was entirely consistent with optimum, conventional medical practice in a district hospital maternity unit in 1997.
At a previous hearing, Dr O'Mahony told the court the baby had an abnormal presentation and his side contended she should have been delivered by caesarean section within fifteen minutes of her sister.
He said that when born Shauni had to be resuscitated and was transferred to another hospital.
Dr O'Mahony said the young woman is doing well and the care given by her mother was extraordinary.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it was fair and reasonable. He conveyed his best wishes to Shauni and her family.