Girl (18) with cerebral palsy awarded €8.4m

An 18-year old girl with cerebral palsy who had sued over the circumstances of her birth at Waterford Regional Hospital has settled her High Court action for €8.4million. Ciara Ormond, the High Court heard, has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and is totally dependent, needs 24 hour care and has to use a wheelchair. The settlement is without a full admission of liability. Ciara’s counsel Bruce Antonioni SC told Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon the family were in Italy for the wedding of Ciara’s mother, Jean Ormond. It was alleged in court that during labour CTG monitoring of the fetal heartbeat of Ciara Ormond was discontinued for one hour and 25 minutes and Counsel told the court it was their case that the trace was stopped between 12.10 and 13.35 and this, he said was "completely unacceptable." Counsel said it was the HSE's case that the mother went for a shower and that is why the CTG trace was disconnected. Mr Antoniotti said the mother would say she was not in the shower for one and a half hours. Counsel said when the CTG trace was recommenced it was "immediately abnormal." In a statement read outside court the Ormond family said the settlement figure is "not some kind of windfall" but is to secure Ciara’s future and will finally provide her with the specialist care and therapy she needs and deserves. They said it had been a long time coming, and they just wanted to move on now and give Ciara the best life she deserves.

In the statement read by their solicitor Joice Carthy, the Ormond family added:

"No amount of money will give Ciara back what she has lost out on, and will continue to lose out on in the future. Ciara will need round the clock care and numerous therapies such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and many others. Describing Ciara as "an amazing young woman who is loved greatly", the Ormonds said they are extremely proud of Ciara and she is "almost always upbeat and cheerful despite her difficulties and everything that she has to go through every day."

The statement added: "We are relieved that Ciara’s case has settled today. It has however been a very difficult battle and we feel it is unfortunate that Ciara’s case was brought this far and only settled at such a late stage. "As a family, we would have found it far less stressful and upsetting if it had been resolved sooner."

Ciara Ormond, Ursuline Crescent, Waterford city had through her mother Jean Ormond sued the HSE over the circumstances of her birth on November 5, 2000 at Waterford Regional Hospital. It was claimed there an alleged failure to properly manage and monitor the labour, delivery and birth. It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to ensure continued and careful monitoring of the condition of the baby and her mother during labour, including careful monitoring and recording of fetal heart rate. It was also claimed there were alleged unreasonable gaps in the monitoring of the baby and her mother including an alleged lack of monitoring between 12.10 and 13.35 on November 5, 2000. It was allegedly monitoring was discontinued for one hour and 25 minutes and there was an alleged failure to intervene and deliver the baby in an appropriate prompt and timely manner.

The claims were denied and the HSE claimed there had been an alleged delay in bringing the case. The settlement was without admission of liability. When Ciara was born, she required vigorous resuscitation, Counsel told the court when Ciara was born she "was like a doll." Mr Antoniotti said Ciara suffers from spasms, can only hold her head up for a few minutes. He said she loves music, clothes and style and loves attending school and is the most popular girl in the class.

Approving the settlement, Ms Justice O’Hanlon said there were major issues in the case. She said it is an extremely tragic case. This was a tragedy which occurred at a birth and the consequences for Ciara was nothing short of catastrophic for her, the judge said. The settlement, Ms Justice O Hanlon added was achieved by agreement and she said it was "a fair and just arrangement in the circumstances." Following the ruling of this settlement, Joice Carthy, solicitor said the case Illustrated the need for mediation and negotiations at an earlier stage.

"There has been no admission of liability in this matter, but it is unfortunate that it could not have been settled at an earlier point because having to come to Court in order to settle the matter, has caused a lot of stress and worry for Ciara’s mum, Jean, who has been a devoted carer to Ciara for the past 18 years and will doubtless continue to be," she added.