High Court approves further €1.6m for girl (16) with cerebral palsy

16-year-old Ruby Leanne McCandless has dyskinetic cerebral palsy and will need care for the rest of her life
High Court approves further €1.6m for girl (16) with cerebral palsy

High Court reporters

A further €1.6 million interim payment has been approved by the High Court for a girl with cerebral palsy, bringing to some €4 million her settlement to date.

Approving the settlement, president of the High Court Ms Justice Mary Irvine wished 16-year-old Ruby Leanne McCandless well for the next four years.

Ruby has dyskinetic cerebral palsy and will need care for the rest of her life. She suffered her injuries as a result of her mother not being referred to hospital with symptoms of pre-eclampsia, it was claimed.

Previously the court heard Ruby’s mother, Christina McDaid, had high blood pressure at the end of her pregnancy and should have been referred to hospital immediately.

Through her mother, Ruby, of Foxwood, Gleneely, Co Donegal, sued the HSE in relation to the care Ms McDaid received at the end of her pregnancy in 2006.

It was claimed there were failures to diagnose and treat pre-eclampsia at the earliest reasonable opportunity and to have her admitted to hospital to have her high blood pressure properly managed.

In 2014, the High Court approved a settlement including an interim payment of €1.45 million to cover care up to this year. In 2018, a further €1 million interim payment was approved.

When the case came back before the court on Thursday, Des O’Neill SC, for the family, asked the court to approve a further payment of €1.592 million.

Ms Justice Irvine said this seems to be a “pretty good settlement” that will tide her over for the next few years. Hearing this four-year payment is larger than the last primarily because the cost of care has increased considerably, she said it is right that the important work of carers is ameliorated appropriately.

Forced back to court

Outside court, the family’s solicitor, David O’Malley, said the family believes the current periodic payment order system that forces families back to the court every few years “needs reform”.

The legislation is “unworkable and needs to be index-linked to wage inflation”, he said on their behalf.

“Interim payments and lump sums are both cloaked with uncertainty. I implore Minister Helen McEntee to immediately remedy this unworkable legislation to ensure certainty moving forward for catastrophically injured children.”

The court heard previously that Ruby’s mother was due to give birth on March 30th, 2006. It was claimed her blood pressure was normal up to March 28th when she attended for her last antenatal check-up at Carndonagh Community Hospital. During the appointment, it was claimed, it was noticed she had a problem with her blood pressure.

She had allegedly developed swelling around her ankles in the days running up to the appointment. Her blood pressure was taken four times at the hospital, it was claimed.

When she was examined, a doctor indicated her elevated blood pressure was a borderline case and told her to visit her GP on March 31st, it was claimed. Her ankles and face were still swollen the next day and she had a headache.

On March 30th, her right hand had started to shake, her face to droop and she began to lose the power over her tongue. An ambulance was called but Ms McDaid was unconscious.

She was rushed to Letterkenny General Hospital 45 miles away, suffered a series of severe pre-eclamptic fits and there was a lack of oxygen to the unborn baby. Ruby was later delivered by caesarean section and spent her first 11 days in intensive care.

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