A €1.5m settlement including expenses has been awarded to the family of a deceased young mother who was pregnant and kept alive on life support due to doctors’ concerns about the Eighth Amendment.
Ms Natasha Perie (26) was pronounced brain dead during November 2014 when she was 15 weeks pregnant. She had been kept alive on life support for an another four weeks after this due to doctors’ concerns in relation to the Eighth Amendment – which has since been repealed – for the foetus. Life support was turned off once her family obtained High Court orders to that end on December 26, 2014.
The final settlement was awarded for negligence in care at Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar and €1.3m of it will be paid to Ms Perie’s two children, who are now aged 11 and nine. Her father Peter Perie initiated a legal action for damages for his two grandchildren (Natasha’s children) now aged 11 and 9, in relation to the loss of their mother. Both children, who have different fathers, had been living with their mother in Mr Perie’s home but, since her death, have been residing with their respective fathers.
The HSE admitted liability in the case but did not accept the extent of damages sought, some €3.2m. The State Claims Agency offered a settlement of some €1.5m on behalf of the HSE. Nervous shock claims by seven family members were settled on an earlier occasion and Ms Perie’s daughter received €150,000 in those proceedings.
Ms Justice Deirdre Murphy heard the bigger fatal dependency case, which started yesterday, after a mediation was unsuccessful in securing agreement and the €1.5m offer made earlier this week was not accepted.
An apology had been made public by the HSE for the family last November from the Mullingar hospital and the HSE in relation to problems with Ms Perie’s care at the hospital in late 2014. She was confirmed brain dead days after her admission there on November 27, 2014, but was then placed on life support.
Testimony was made to Justice Murphy, from members of his extended family and the children’s fathers and relevant medics, in relation to the effect on the children of seeing their mother on life support. Dr Frances Colreavy said Ms Perie’s eyes did not close properly. She said nurses advised her that the children, especially the then six-year-old girl, were upset, with both refusing to make contact with their mother. Th current state of the girl was referred to as “inconsolable”. A care specialist also told the Court that both children would need live-in nannies until they left home. The judge expressed concern about that and certain other aspects of the legal action.
However yesterday morning, in the aftermath of mediation talks, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was asked by Jonathan Kilfeather SC, instructed by Gillian O’Connor solicitor, of Michael Boylan Litigation, to give his approval the €1.5m offer.