Cork boy (11) settles case over hospital birth for almost €20m

Alex Foley, who has cerebral palsy, sued over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital
Cork boy (11) settles case over hospital birth for almost €20m

An 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who sued over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital has settled his High Court action for almost €20 million.

In the High Court on Tuesday a final lump sum payment of €18 million was approved for Alex Foley from Midleton, Co Cork bringing to €19.98 million the amount secured in his case.

Alex who has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy Mr Justice Paul Coffey was told can now walk up to two kilometres after key surgery in the US.

11-year battle

His parents Patrick and Laurane Foley said the final settlement marks the end of their 11-year battle.

“Our battle started when we were at our weakest and consumed with the 24-hour care of Alex. It has been a struggle since that day as we have fought for Alex’s rights against the might of the State and the HSE”, Mrs Foley said in a statement outside the Four Courts.

Every last cent of the lump sum settlement she said will be spent ensuring Alex has the quality of life he deserves including access to many specialist therapies, treatments and equipment he needs.

“It will help him live as best a life as possible with his injury, but of course it won’t change what happened,” she said.

She added: “There is no amount of money that could compensate Alex for his injury, or give him back the life he should have had. What this will do is ensure he has a life that is as good as it can be. It is the very least he deserves."

US surgery

Alex's counsel Liam Reidy SC with Doireann O’Mahony BL told the High Court the little boy could only walk a few steps but since key surgery in the US he can now walk 2kms without assistance. The first surgery was paid for by a huge fundraising effort in his community.

Alex Foley, of Midleton, Co Cork, had through his mother Laurane sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital on October 5th, 2010.

The claims were denied and the court previously heard the settlement was on the basis of a 10% deduction. Five years ago the boy secured a €1.98 million interim payment and his case was adjourned to this week to decide on his future care needs.

Scan

The High Court was previously told Ms Foley was pregnant with twins and had a scan in June 2010 which showed a low-lying placenta. There was another scan in September 2010 and a low-lying placenta it was claimed meant there was a real risk of vasa praevia.

There was, it was claimed a failure to identify, at an earlier stage, a complication of pregnancy – vasa praevia – in which a baby’s blood vessels cross or run near to the internal opening of the uterus.

The Foley side contended there should have been another more specific scan at this stage and if there had been it would have identified the risk.

The HSE denied the claims and contended that it was not normal practice to carry out the second scan.

On October 4th, 2010, Mrs Foley began to suffer pains at home and went to the hospital where a CTG trace showed the foetal hearts to be normal.

After midnight, the mother’s waters were artificially broken and she suffered heavy bleeding. Alex’s heartbeat started to drop and it was decided to deliver the twins by emergency caesarean section.

Alex was in poor condition when born but his brother Jacob was in a normal condition.

Mrs Foley told the court it is absolutely amazing Alex can now walk. She said they wanted to accept a lump sum payment as they didn’t want “to go through the process anymore.”

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey said the extraordinary if not miraculous progress Alex has made must be a great comfort to his parents.

Outside court the Foleys flanked by their legal team had a special mention for those who over the years fundraised and donated for his key surgery and equipment.

“Thank you to all those who helped Alex get his SDR surgery at the time in his life when it would be most effective and helped fulfil his wish to walk. And to those who fundraised and donated for his wheelchairs, both of which the HSE would not provide,” Mrs Foley said.

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