Boy with cerebral palsy who sued over circumstances of his birth settles case for record €30m

A 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy has settled his High Court action for a record €30m over the circumstances of his birth at a Galway hospital.

Oran Molloy from Birr, Co Offaly has spastic diplegia which affects all four limbs.

Oran’s Counsel Denis McCullough SC told the court the boy’s settlement which was reached after mediation is the largest recovery of damages in a birth injury case in this jurisdiction. The mediation talks counsel said were “protracted and difficult”.

Counsel said when he was five years old, Oran had surgery in the US which was financed by local fundraising and he could then take some steps with crutches. However, his mobility has since lessened.

The court heard under the settlement agreement he will have a special needs assistant at school. Oran hopes to become an electrical engineer.

He had sued the HSE over injuries suffered during his birth at Portiuncula University Hospital, Ballinasloe, Co Galway on December 31, 2006.

Liability was admitted in the case last month.

Outside court Gillian O’Connor, solicitor on behalf of Oran’s parents Adrian and Deirdre Molloy, said while €30m was a lot of money “the Molloys would give it back in a heartbeat” if only the night of the December 31 when Oran was born and injured at birth “could be changed and the errors erased”.

Ms O’Connor said they had asked for an annual payment linked to wage inflation but this was refused and so the Molloys were obliged to go for a lump sum.

“This is the highest award but justifiably so and is about €12m more than what is normally awarded,” she said.

This was because it represents in the Molloy legal team’s view a negative real rate of return of minus 1.5pc and not up to plus 1.5pc which was determined in the Irish courts seven years ago, she said.

The case of Oran Molloy, the court previously heard, is likely to have far-reaching implications for other similar cases and in particular in relation to the rate of return.

Oran, of Riverstown, Birr, Co Offaly had, through his mother, sued the HSE over the circumstances of his birth at Portiuncula on December 31, 2006.

Ms Molloy’s pregnancy was initially uncomplicated but in November 2006, she suffered an antepartum haemorrhage and was admitted to hospital. After a scan was noted to be healthy, the mother was advised to rest.

Ms Molloy was assessed on a weekly basis after her discharge from hospital.

On December 30, Ms Molloy had another haemorrhage and was taken by ambulance to hospital where CTG monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat was begun. She was brought to the labour ward.

Ms Molloy suffered another antepartum haemorrhage at around 2.30am on December 31and a decision to have an emergency caesarean section was made.

When delivered, Oran was noted to be flat and he required intensive resuscitation with intubation and ventilation.

It was claimed there was a failure to carry out any proper monitoring of Ms Molloy and her baby in the course of her labour and delivery and the CTG trace was discontinued when it ought not to have done so.

It was further claimed an unsafe set of conditions was allowed to persist during the course of labour and it should have been known it would cause damage and injury to baby Oran.

It was also claimed that having regard to the non-reassuring features of the CTG traces and Ms Molloy’s clinical presentation, a conservative management of the mother took place and followed a very relaxed approach to the issue of foetal monitoring and the delivery of the baby,

There was also, it was claimed, a failure to recognise the baby was suffering with severe hypoxic ischaemia as a result of prolonged foetal distress and to deal with it in a proper and timely manner, or at all.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey said he had little hesitation in approving the settlement and conveyed his best wishes to Oran and his parents.