'relieved' | 

€3m settlement for boy with autism over Cork hospital care during birth

It was claimed there was a delay in the delivery of Shane Keating Fitzgerald from Knocknahenny, Co Cork

Shane Keating Fitzgerald

Tim HealyIndependent.ie

An eight-year-old boy with autism who had sued over the circumstances of his birth at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) has settled his High Court action with an interim settlement figure of €2.95million.

It was claimed there was a delay in the delivery of Shane Keating Fitzgerald from Knocknahenny, Co Cork, the court heard.

The boy, when he was three, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The case against the HSE was settled without an admission of liability. It represents 75pc of the full value of the case.

The 25pc discount related to the issues around liability and causation. The interim settlement which was reached after mediation is for the next five years.

The HSE had denied all the claims.

Shane’s counsel Jonathan Kilfeather SC, instructed by Michael Boylan solicitor, told the court his side was alleging that the boy’s autism was “as a result of the deprivation of oxygen at birth”.

The boy’s case will next come back before the court in five years’ time when his future care needs will be decided.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said it reflected the litigation risk in the case.

The judge said he saluted Shane’s parents Vicky Fitzgerald and Patrick Keating, for the care they have given their son since his birth, and he conveyed his very best wishes to Shane and his family.

Outside court, Ms Fitzgerald said the family was relieved the legal proceedings were over.

“Shane has brought us so much joy,” she said.

“He is a great child who hugs us so much. This settlement will help him get the therapies he needs,” she said.

Shane, through his mother, sued the HSE.

Ms Fitzgerald had been admitted to CUMH on March 13, 2014, for induction of labour.

It was claimed there was evidence of acute foetal compromise and therefore there was a degree of urgency to deliver the baby.

A ventouse was applied to attempt vacuum-assisted delivery but there were three unsuccessful pulls and it was claimed forceps were applied but failed to achieve delivery. Ms Fitzgerald was transferred to the theatre and the baby was born at 20.05.

Shane had to be resuscitated after delivery.

He was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and a diagnosis of severe perinatal asphyxia and hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy was made.

It was claimed there was a failure to exercise any or any proper or adequate care for the safety and well-being of the mother and baby.

It was also claimed there was an unnecessary delay in the delivery of the baby and a failure to ensure the safety and timely delivery in all the circumstances.

All the claims were denied.

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