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Settlement of Birth Injury Brain Damage Claim Delayed for 18 Days

The High Court has approved the €9 million settlement of a birth injury brain damage claim after negotiations continued for eighteen days into the hearing.

Alex Butler was born “blue and lifeless” at the Waterford Regional Hospital in April 2005, after a locum covering for her mother´s consultant obstetrician failed to identify complications with the birth and avoidably delayed Alex´s delivery by ten minutes.

Due to being deprived of oxygen in the womb, Alex suffered severe brain damage. Although Alex is described as having a “bright personality with a huge intelligence”, she is tetraplegic, mostly confined to a wheelchair and will require permanent care for the rest of her life.

On her daughter´s behalf, Sonya Butler made a birth injury brain damage claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE acknowledged liability for Alex´s birth injuries in 2013 and an interim payment of compensation was made in lieu of a structured settlement system being introduced.

The case was adjourned for two years to allow for the introduction of a structured compensation payment system, but with the necessary legislation not yet passed, the birth injury brain damage claim was heard again at the High Court by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.

The hearing commenced with Alex and her parents hearing an apology from a representative of Waterford Regional Hospital. Thereafter it deteriorated into a disagreement of how much compensation for her avoidable devastating injuries Alex was entitled to.

Negotiations continued for eighteen days until an agreement was reached. Approving the €9 million settlement of Alex´s birth injury brain damage claim, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said the settlement was reasonable and sensible – but, after the approval of the settlement, Alex´s parents said they were shocked that negotiations had taken so long.

Sonya Butler criticised the State Claims Agency´s approach to negotiations and told reporters “They fought tooth and nail. They basically want Alex to have an existence, not a life. They want her to scrape by with the bare minimum rather than her having the life that she should have had.”

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