Court Approves Settlement for Failure to Refer

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The High Court has approved the final settlement for a compensation claim made for a failure to refer after a sharp increase in antibodies was noted.

When Isabelle Sheehan was born in November 2004 at the Bon Secours Maternity Hospital in Cork, she was found to be suffering from spastic quadriparetic cerebral palsy. However, one month before her delivery, Isabelle’s mother – Catherine – had a blood test that showed an “alarming rise” in antibodies. These antibodies posed a risk to the foetus, but her obstetrician – Dr David Corr – did not refer the expectant mother to a specialist.

Isabelle is now eleven years old, and despite her difficulties communicating, has been described as “bright and intelligent”. A specially-designed machine helps her walk, and she attends an all-Irish school near where she lives. However, she will be reliant on round-the-clock care for the rest of her life.

Dr Corr admitted liability for Isabelle’s injuries when Catherine made a claim for compensation against him for his failure to refer her. During a hearing to award an initial interim compensation settlement in October 2011, he told the court that he “very much regrets the outcome in relation to Isabelle´s birth”.

In 2013, when a second interim compensation settlement was approved, Catherine requested that Isabelle, rather than have to undergo the week-long assessments that accompanied each interim settlement, that she receive a lump sum instead.

The court granted this request, and the case was heard earlier this month by President of the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Peter Kelly for approval of the €9 million settlement. Judge Kelly described the settlement as fair and reasonable, and agreed that it was understandable why this method was preferable. Before closing the case, he paid tribute to Colin and Catherine Sheehan, and said that Isabelle’s progress would not have been as notable as it is if they did not express the same dedication to her.