Child injury News
Posted: April 22nd, 2021
At the Circuit Civil Court a settlement has been agreed between Bohemians Football Club/the Airtricity League and the family of an 11-year-old boy who sustained significant injuries during a communion function at Dalymount Park when he was just three years old.
Jessie O’Brien was injured on May 11 2013 when he was involved in an accident close to the the pitch-side dugout at at Dalymount Park. Appearing Court alongside Killeen Solicitors, Barrister Ivan Daly for the boy informed presiding Judge John O’Connor that Jessie had been playing with other children in the location when he fell and injured his mouth and front teeth.
Due to the fall, Mr Daly told the court, Jessie suffered direct impact trauma to his mouth and nose. He was rushed to the emergency department of the Adelaide and Meath Hospital to have his injuries treated medically.
Due to the accident the young boy suffered a 1cm wound to his upper lip, which was bleeding and swollen, and lost his left central incisor baby tooth. A different tooth was also discovered to be loose and partially affected.
The barrister said that the child had been referred to the care of Professor Leo Stassen, consultant oral and maxillofacial surgery, who diagnosed hypoplasia of the child’s permanent central and lateral incisors. Tending to Jessie, Dr Abigail Moore suggested a treatment should take place later when the child’s teeth had fully erupted and matured.
For this reason, Mr Daly advised Justice O’Connor, the decision had been taken to postpone the submission of any child accident compensation claim until such time as the additional treatment had been completed and dental development more closely tracked to properly assess the impact of the accident at Dalymount Park.
The Judge was also informed that Jessie’s treatment plan is scheduled to include a non-vital bleaching and microabrasion treatment initially. At a later date enamel veneers and crowns may have to be placed.
Te Court was told that, despite a full defence being entered by the defendants at first, liability was later accepted and and a proposed child injury compensation settlement €44,000 had been made to the family of the boy.
As he was giving his approval for the personal injury compensation settlement, Justice O’Connor said he considered that the legal representatives for the boy’s have done so extremely well for their client.
Posted: January 3rd, 2021
Judge Justice John O’Connor, at the Circuit Civil Court, has given his approval for a €26,000 child injury compensation settlement for Fran Rooney (8) who sustained injuries to her left ring finger when a fire escape door closed on it unexpectedly.
Appearing for the girl, Zarabelle O’Neill McAllorum, Counsel Fran Rooney at the Circuit Civil Court advised Justice O’Connor that the girl was only six years old when the accident took place. The compensation claim was made against the Department of Education and Skills on the basis that there was negligence with regard to the condition of the fire escape door at Gaelscoil Inse Choir, Islandbridge, Dublin in 2018.
Rooney advised Judge Justice John O’Connor that Zarabelle had initiated the legal action, through her mother Fiona O’Neill, against the Department of Education and Skills. In the action he listed the timetable of events that resulted in Zarabelle sustaining injuries to her left ring finger. Ultimately the nail from that finger was lost.
Mr Rooney advised Justice O’Connor that the fire escape door in question had been closed on her hand by another pupil. It was at once clear that Zarabelle’s finger was significantly damaged and she was rushed to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin to have the ailment reviewed by medical professionals.
In June 2019, seven months after the accident took place, Zarabelle’s doctors returned a diagnosis stating that the young girl yet to show adequate progress on her path to recovery. To address this she had a surgical procedure in order to have her left ring finger nail taken off while she was placed under general anaesthetic. According to Mr Rooney, following this surgical procedure Zarabelle developed a viral infection and had to receive medical attention which involved a course of antibiotic medication. The Judge was told that the young girl has now made a complete recovery from the injuries that she suffered.
A previous compensation settlement offer of €20,000 had been turned down by Zarabelle’s team of legal representatives. However, Judge O’Connor was told that this has not been accepted. Some time after this, the defendant’s legal team came back to the table with a higher compensation settlement offer of €26,000. This was accepted and approval for the settlement was accepted by Judge O’Connor. He commended Mr Rooney for arranging the higher compensation amount.
Posted: January 16th, 2020
Yesterday an eight-year-old schoolgirl from Loughlinstown, was awarded €40,000 cinema injury settlement at the Circuit Civil Court due to suffering a dislocated knee injury in a fall at a Dún Laoghaire cinema.
Barrister Siobhán Gaffney was representing the girl, Tori McDermott Ellis, along Murphys Solicitors in court and told informed the judge that she (Tori) had tripped and fell on an uneven floor surface in the EMC Cinema at the Bloomfield Shopping Centre, Dún Laoghaire. She (Gaffney) said that the incident where the injury occured happened on October 2, 2016.
Ms Gaffney told the Court that Tori, who is now 12 years old, had struck her left knee up against a cup holder that was attached to a cinema seat. After this collision the young girl found that she was unable to get up onto her feet afterwards.
Judge Frances Comerford was told that the Tori was taken by ambulance to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin. When she arrived, an X-ray was completed and indicated that her left kneecap had been dislocated. A surgical team were able to put her kneecap back into the correct position during a procedure in which the girl was sedated.
Tori legs was placed in a cast for a number of week to aid recovery, She was unable to attend her school for some of this time. It was also necessary for her to undergo some physiotherapy treatment as part of her rehabilitation. Tori, through her mother Mellissa Ellis, who has an address at Parc Na Silla Lane, Loughlinstown, Co Dublin, took the personal injury compensation action against Irish Multiplex Cinemas Limited, Dún Laoghaire.
The Judge was informed that Tori has made a good recovery from the incident. The court was advised that the Injuries Board Book of Quantum estimates a value of such an injury as between €28,000 and €56,000. While liability had not been formally admitted in the case, the Judge was informed that the €40,000 personal injury compensation settlement had been agreed between all parties before Wednesday’s court application.
The judge have approval for the agreed the settlement along with legal costs associated.
Posted: October 15th, 2019
A €30,000 Giraffe Creche abuse compensation award has been been settled in favour of an eight-year-old boy who was filmed, when he was just a baby, ‘strapped into a chair for hours’ in an RTE news exposé that was covering the poor treatment of pre-school children.
Just two years old when he was recorded being restrained in the chair, the footage of Lucas Doyle allegedly being strapped into a chair for two hours at the Giraffe creche, Belarmine, Stepaside, Co Dublin was aired on the RTÉ news documentary programme ‘A Breach of Trust’.
The Giraffe creche in question was one of three creches chosen by the RTE PrimeTime Investigates broadcast team to be covered in an investigation in to the standard of care provided by pre-school services within the State during 2013. The High Court was told that, ten days before the RTE documentary was aired, the producer and cameraman of the programme went to the boy’s family home with footage due to be broadcast. They showed his parent the footage captured at the Belarmine creche which allegedly portrayed Lucas in a room where children were being tied into chairs and shouted at.
Lucas was cared for in the creche in Belarmine from August 2012 to May 2013, beginning when he was 11-and-a-half months’ old until he was a year and eight months old. Lucas, through his mother Aisling Emmet, took the Giraffe creche abuse compensation action against Giraffe Childcare Unlimited Company and its managing director Simon Dowling.
They claimed, as part of the legal action, that the footage showed that Lucas being allegedly tied into a chair for two hours on one day. Giraffe Childcare, through the court, informed the boy’s parents that new standards and safety measures had been put implemented following the incident recorded by RTÉ. However his parents had found an alternative childcare centre for Lucas, who was reported to have recovered well from any suffering he experienced.
The Giraffe creche abuse compensation settlement of €30,000 was approved by Mr Justice Garret Simons.
Posted: June 27th, 2019
Trampoline accident compensation of €36,000 has been approved in the Circuit Civil Court for an eight-year-old schoolgirl whose leg was broken in two places while she was visiting a fun park.
Jane Morgan, who is now 11-years-old, took the legal action via her mother Janet Morgan, against Fun Galaxy Ashbourne Limited, which has a registered address at Airside Retail Park, Swords, Co Dublin, for €60,000 damages for personal injury.
Jane’s legal representative, Barrister Pat Purcell, informed Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, that Jane had been bumped into suddenly by another child who was playing on the trampoline.
Appearing with Hennessy and Perrozzi Solicitors, Mr Purcell advised the judge that Jane had been brought to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Here x-rays showed that the young girl had suffered fractures to both her right tibia and right fibula.
Mr Purcell told the judge in the circuit court that she (Jane) had been taken to theatre under the care of a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. Here she had undergone a procedure for closed reductions of the fractures.
In addition to this, an above knee plaster-of-Paris had been put in place. Jane was then reviewed by a consultant specialist on three separate occasions at the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital fracture clinic.
Mr Purcell informed the court that the accident had taken place on March 12, 2016 and a medical report following an examination six months after the accident stated she had made an uncomplicated recovery.
Judge Groarke gave his approval for the €36,000 trampoline accident compensation offer.
Posted: May 20th, 2019
Cork City and County councils have paid €15m personal injury compensation in relation to slips, trips, and falls since 2016. Data gathered through a Freedom of Information Act request has also revealed that there are many personal injury compensation claims yet to be settled by the local authorities.
So far this year, up to March 31, €1,144,594 for public injury liability compensation claims by Cork City Council in relation to slips, trips and falls in the public realm, including parks and public areas in council-owned housing estates. When compared alongside the overall total of compensation paid out by the local authority bodies in the last few of years as follows:
- €4,350,550 in 2018
- €4,254,068 in 2017
- €3,999,606 in 2016.
For the same Jan 1-Mar 31 time periods Cork County Council paid:
- €129,626 in 2018
- €667,754 in 2017
- €782,035 in 2016
Currently for Cork City Council there are 455 uncompleted personal injury compensation claims as of March 31, 2019. Cork County Council have 230 uncompleted personal injury compensation cases for the same time period.
Cork City Councillor Fianna Fáil’s Terry Shannon, who was previously lord Mayor of Cork, says that the high level of claims are due to a lack of investment in the public realm in recent years.
He commented: “It is a direct result of the decline of the condition of the public realm: potholes, cracked footpaths, and so on. The issue is getting worse and the amount paid each year is getting bigger, because we haven’t been able to fix long-standing issues, because national government hasn’t invested the money.”
Mr Shannon went on to say that Cork City Council has put aside €5m in 2019 to deal with potential personal injury compensation settlements.
As another measure to tackle the number of claim the local authority body has set aside €200,000 to “upgrade and repair footpaths that have fallen into bad condition and have been the subject of a number of liability claims”.
He referred to this amount as inadequate and remarked that is will be “used to patch up areas that have been the result of multiple claims but, ultimately, it won’t go far enough to make a real difference.”
Posted: April 2nd, 2019
A small girl who suffered a broken nose when a table struck her in face in windy conditions outside on O’Brien’s Sandwich shop has been awarded €30,000 personal injury compensation in the Circuit Civil Court.
When the incident occurred Lily Spratt was only three-years-old. Her legal representative, Barrister Ivan Daly, told the court that the incident occurred when a table in an outdoors seating area flew through the air and hit Lily in the face during windy weather on Lower Grand Canal Street, Dublin.
In Court Justice Raymond Groarke was advised how Lily had been brought to Temple Street Children’s Hospital for treatment immediately after the accident happened. She had been put put under general anaesthetic while her nose injuries were tended to.
Luckily, Mr Daly informed the court, Lily had suffered no permanent damage to her nose. He told Justice Groarke: “Certainly there is no question of any disfigurement of her nose.”
Mr Daly recommended that the court accept the settlement offer that was being presented by Adleo Ltd.
Judge Groarke gave his approval to the sandwich shop compensation settlement and added that thought it was an excellent offer of personal injury compensation.
Posted: February 23rd, 2019
A school injury compensation award of €55,000 for a nine-year-old girl has been approved after the court was informed how she caught her finger in a school door and will no longer be able to grow her nail long.
Solicitor Fiona Crawford, appearing on behalf of the child, advised the court that the girl had been closing the door of a classroom when it had shut back on to her finger. She was rushed to Letterkenny University Hospital for treatment before being taken on to Galway Hospital where a surgical procedure was carried out on her finger by surgeon Michael O’Sullivan.
Ms Crawford advised presiding Judge John Aylmer that, as a direct result of the school door accident injury, the child was quite sensitive to colder temperatures and did no like anyone coming into contact with the affected finger as she had become very self conscious about the pain it could inflict on her. The top of her finger was lost in the accident as it could be be reattached during treatment, Letterkenny Circuit Court was informed.
Ms Crawford told the presiding Judge that the girl in question continued to suffer from a serious amount of discomfort and said she would not be allowed to have her nails grow long due to the injury. Also, she has a visible scar on the top of her finger and her handwriting had also been impacted due to the accident.
At first the young girl was offered a personal injury compensation amount of €35,000 in relation to the accident that happened in April 2017. Ms Crawford said this was considered much too low give the life long injuries that the child will suffer from. Judge Aylmer agreed with this and directed that an improved personal injury compensation amount should be offered to the child.
Both sets of legal representation returned later in the day and the Judge was advised that a higher school injury compensation settlement offer of €55,000 has been agreed upon by all parties. The Judge gave his approval for the improved personal injury compensation offer.
Posted: February 10th, 2018
A birth scar compensation settlement of €65,000 has been approved for a boy, now aged eight years old, who allegedly sustained a facial injury when he was born at the Coombe Hospital.
The boy, Dara Brennan, it believed to have sustained the injury to his face during an attempted forceps delivery.
Dara experienced scarring to his cheek and two indentations on the right side of his face that remain to this day. The Court was told that both of these are clearly visible when he smiles.
Taking the compensation action on behalf of her son, Lorraine Brennan, of Brayton Park, Kilcock, Co Kildare, sued the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital due to the negligence experienced during his (Dara’s) birth on November 12, 2009.
It was claimed that alleged improper use of forceps at the time of his delivery inflicted the scars the right side of Dara’s face. Legal representatives for the boy said that there was a failure to exercise the necessary care, competence, judgment and skill required during the delivery.
Additionally, it was alleged that a more senior doctor in obstetrics should have been called to attend the birth. Counsel for the Coombe Hospital denied these claims.
Dara’s legal team advised the court that liability in the case was fully contested in the case. They added that medical experts on all sides could not agree on all aspects in relation to the incident.
In approving the birth injury compensation settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that it was as near to full compensation as possible.
Posted: January 23rd, 2018
Karen Keely, a Co Meath mother of three sons who have experienced illness due to use of the Epilepsy treatment drug Epilim, has given evidence at the European Medicines Agency review into its use.
Last September (2017) Ms Keely, a member of the Foetal Anti-Convulsant Syndrome Forum advised the review hearing of the difficulties her sons have gone through over the course of their lives.
Ms Keely said: “Two of my three boys require life-long care and will never live a normal life, will never be able to have children or get married. The effects of sodium valproate have been unbearable.
“I have been mourning my children since the day they came into my life and I’m determined to not let this injustice happen to other families in the same way that it has happened to mine.”
Ms Keely also said one of the problems was that some patients on valproate long term may get the medicine in a plastic bag. She called for a national register to be established in Ireland of those who were treated with the medicine and people who are being prescribed it in the future.
She also said that more research into the scale of the problem and accountability needs to be completed. Ms Keely said the HSE had details online but wider publicity was needed to spread the word.
The public hearing saw speakers from six EU Member States recounting their experience to the members of the PRAC (Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee). Epilim has been acknowledged to cause physical deformities, brain damages and autism in children whose mothers are prescribed it during their pregnancy. It is currently being implicated in 40 cases of birth defects and disabilities, reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in recent times.
Following the completion of the review, initiated on 9 March 2017 at the request of the French medicines regulator ANSM, by the European Medicines Agency is it expected that the HRPA will meet to review the use of Epilim in Ireland by medical professionals.
Posted: October 15th, 2017
A boy (13) has been awarded €25,000 in injury compensation for a Tayto Park fall following High Court Approval for a proposed settlement.
Conor Bolger, who was just eight years old at the time of the fall from a playground tower, of Briarfield Road, Kilbarrack, took the legal action against Ashbourne Visitor Centre Ltd, Co Meath trading as Tayto Park, through his father Brian Bolger. Due the the injuries he was inflicted with in the fall on March 25 2012, Conor had to undergo a clinical operation to place pins in his lower arm after he fractured his elbow
Mr Bolger’s legal team argued that the playground tower which Conor fell from, one of the main attractions in the park at the time, was overcrowded. They also alleged that the ground around the base of the tower did not have the correct amount of protective wood mulch to prevent injury. This, they said, was due to the absence of constant inspections and safety checks in the area by staff members at Tayto Park. If these had these measures been in place, it was argued, the boy may not have been injured or would have suffered less severe injuries.
Tayto Park (Ashbourne Visitor Centre) through their legal representation David McGrath SC denied these claims and argued that Conor Bolger “just fell” when he was climbing the playground tower, rather than there being any issues with the safety of the tower. The Court was told that the Bolger family were happy to agree to a playground injury compensation settlement of €25,000.
High Court Justice Kevin Cross approved the Tayto Park Fall playground compensation settlement, He said that Conor’s scar, following the medical operation, was not “too upsetting” and also acknowledged that he (Conor) would have had his enjoyment of basketball hampered due to the injuries he suffered.
Posted: May 20th, 2017
Several former servicemen are prepared to make a claim against the Defence Forces due to damages to their and their families’ health due to prolonged unprotected exposure at their base.
As a result of an inspection made by the Health Service Authority (HSA) last October, the working conditions experienced by servicemen at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have been the subject of investigation. Furthermore, a number of claims against the Defence Forces were made in 2015 and 2016 by former air corps personnel for unprotected chemical exposure at the facility.
Authorities are investigating the claims that servicemen were exposed to high levels of chemical dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks associated with continued exposure. The more recent claims highlight the serious health damage that several servicemen claim to have sustained from working at the base. The report was initially published by an online newspaper, the Journal.
According to site, a “whistle-blower” has alleged air corps servicemen were not protected against exposure to the chemical-which is widely known to be carcinogenic and mutagenic-at the Baldonnel base. He further claims that, as a result, at least twenty former servicemen have died due to neurological and cancer-related illnesses.
The former air corps mechanic also believes that the partners of personnel based at the aerodrome have suffered fertility issues, and that a higher proportion than average of their children have been born with birth defects or development issues. The claim alleges that five children have died due to their parents´ exposure to toxic chemicals and, the “whistle-blower” claims, many more are living with debilitating illnesses.
The Journal reports the representative association for air corps personnel – PDFORRA – has been attempting to get improve health and safety conditions at the camp for a number of years. The association´s general secretary Gerry Rooney told the Journal: “There’s a tendency in military organisations to focus on carrying out the operation at all costs. It´s fairly clear there was a problem with chemicals and their use.”
There have been several unsuccessful attempts made to obtain comments from the Defence Forces and Department of Defence about the new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces. However Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó’Snodaigh was heavily critical of junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe. He told the Journal that previous chemical exposure claims had fallen on deaf ears, despite Minister Kehoe stating the health and wellbeing of members of the Defence Forces are a priority for him.
Posted: October 9th, 2016
A child’s claim for personal injury compensation has been approved by a judge in the Circuit Court.
When Róisín Byrne was just fifteen months old in August 2012, she fell from a window onto an emergency fire space at her parent’s temporary home in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. She suffered extensive injuries to her head and ribs, as well as puncturing her long from the eleven – foot fall. Róisín is now five years old and suffers from visible scarring on her head.
Ronan Byrne and Chloe Murphy, Róisín’s parents, had previously issued a complaint with the caretaker of the property concerning the same Georgian window from which Róisín fell. They said that it posed a risk to their daughter, as it was not very high off of the floor, and requested that the caretaker install a security mechanism to prevent such an accident.
However, the lock was never installed and, acting on her daughter’s behalf, Chloe made a claim for personal injuries assessment with the Injuries Board. Enda Woods, who owns the accomodation, contended to an assessment by the board and a compensation settlement of €46,000 was calculated.
The assessment by the Injuries Board was accepted by both parties, though as the claim was made on behalf of a minor, it had to be approved by a judge in court before it could be awarded. The value of the assessment was above €15,000, which meant that it had to be heard in the Circuit Court.
Mr Justice Raymond Groarke oversaw proceedings, and after hearing details of Róisín’s fall, he approved the settlement. The money will be held in court funds until Róisín is eighteen years old.
Posted: August 5th, 2016
A Dublin boy, who was scarred after an injury in a creche as toddler, has received a settlement of compensation for his injury.
In July 2007, when Calum Lawless was just three years old, he was playing at the Happy Days Creche in Dublin. As the little boy was running around, he tripped over uneven flooring and fell on his face. As a result, he was bleeding very heavily from a three-centimetre laceration above his eye. Workers at the nursery brought him to the VHI Swiftcare Clinic at Dublin City University, and his wound was closed with steri-strips.
Calum’s eye did not open for nearly a week after the accident, and his face remained bruised for many months. Now aged twelve, Calum still has a scar above his eye from the injury. The location means that it is uncorrectable with plastic surgery.
Lorraine Lawless, Calum’s mother, consulted a solicitor and proceeded to claim for personal injury compensation on her son’s behalf. In the claim, which was made against the Happy Days Creche, accused the facility of breaching its duty of care towards her son by neglecting to provide a safe environment in which he could play.
The Dublin creche admitted their guilt and offered the boy a settlement of compensation worth €45,000. However, as the claim was made on behalf of a minor, the settlement had to be approved by a judge.
The case was heard at the Civil Circuit Court in Dublin earlier this week, where Mr Justice James O’Donohoe was detailed the nature of Calum’s injury. Judge O’Donohoe proceeded to approve the settlement of compensation.
Posted: July 7th, 2016
The High Court of Dublin has approved a six figure settlement of compensation for a teenager who scarred in a childhood holiday accident.
The accident occurred in August 2009 at the Slattery Caravan Park in Lahinch, Co. Clare. Shauna Burke was visiting the park with her family, and as the ten-year-old was playing with her friends. Whist she was running, Shauna gashed her leg on a nail that was jutting from a pole.
The nail caused a deep cut to Shauna’s leg just above her knee. Despite immediate medical attention, she has been left with a very visible scar. Acting on his daughter’s behalf, John Burke made a claim for personal injury compensation whilst on holiday against Austin Francis Slattery, the owner of the facility.
In the claim, it was alleged that Slattery was aware of the nail and the danger it posed, as it was located in an area popular with visitors. Though Slattery denied that he was negligent, he did offer €106,000 in compensation to account for Shauna’s suffering and the cost of future medical care.
However, as Shauna is a minor, the claim had to go the the High Court for approval before it could be award. The case was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr, who was given details of Shauna’s injury and its impact.
Judge Barr inspected Shauna’s leg and proceeded to approve the settlement. Shauna is now seventeen, so the settlement will be paid into court funds until she reaches the age of eighteen.
Posted: December 22nd, 2015
A fourteen year old boy has been awarded a five-figure settlement of compensation for emotional trauma inflicted upon him when a fire broke out in his family home.
When a Hotpoint dishwasher caught fire in the evening of the 26th June 2010, the house owned by the Monds family in Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath was destroyed. Luckily, each of the family’s four children were successfully and safely removed from the burning house by their parents, though they could not live in their family home until spring 2011
Aaron, the nine year old son of the couple, was severely unsettled by the fire. Already known to suffer from mild intellectual disabilities, the fire in his house caused him to develop a phobia of all fires and triggered obsessive compulsive disorder for years after the event, with symptoms including repeatedly checking that electrical appliances are unplugged.
As Aaron was not of legal age, he made a claim for compensation through his father Henry Monds for the emotional trauma he sustained in the house fire against the manufacturer of the dishwasher, Indesit UK Ltd.. An investigation into the circumstances of the blaze was attributed to the appliance, and as such liability was admitted by the company. The claim then proceeded to the High Court.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton oversaw proceedings at the hearing, and was given accounts of Aaron’s night terrors concerning fire and burning, years after the event occurred. The judge was also told that therapy was alleviating the condition, though he still suffered from anxiety attacks that it would happen again.
The judge accepted the evidence that Aaron was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the fire. Aaron was awarded a €51,244 settlement which the court ordered to be paid into court funds until Aaron reached eighteen.
Posted: August 10th, 2015
The Ombudsman for Children have criticised the Health Service Executive’s Child and Family Service for a lack of monitoring of children in care homes.
Speaking on RTE’s “Morning Ireland” earlier this week, Niall Muldoon – the Ombudsman for Children – made comments that criticised the HSE’s Child and Family Service (named “TUSLA”). In his comment, he said that the service has knowing let voluntary and private residential care homes for children remain open when the service knows the operators have breached statutory regulations.
The Ombudsman says the shortage of staff in the Child and Family Service as well as “inconsistencies and discrepancies” in the standards of monitoring by the service, or the blatant failure to monitor. Investigations by his own office, he claimed, uncovered a delay of fourteen months after a care home’s registration for a formal inspection. He claims that this placed the children involved in a “vulnerable situation”.
Mr Muldoon explained on the programme that the inconsistencies were because of the development of four regions within the HSE, which developed over twenty years. Over the years, each region had set up its own policies, a concern for the Ombudsman. Mr Muldoon has said that the same standards of care should be employed by care homes across the country.
The Ombudsman made a proposal to merge TUSLA into the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the body that monitors standards in residential homes run by the state. The proposal was made such that the agency could be run independently, following guidelines laid out in the Ryan Report of 2009.
Brian Lee, TUSLA’s Director of Quality Assurance, commented on RTE’s News at One that “We are working very closing with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and with HIQA to move this along. There’s nothing impeding us from supporting this process but it’s in the hands of the Department and HIQA to move this forward.”
Posted: July 25th, 2015
The offer of a €15,000 settlement of compensation for a young girl who was psychologically traumatised at a crèche was not approved by a Circuit Court judge, who deemed it too low.
Aged just eight months, Emilie Kiely – now four from Sandyford in Dublin – began attending the Giraffe Crèche in Stepaside in 2011. By September 2012, she was moved to the “Toddlers’ Room”, but this seemed to cause her great stress and anxiety. In the morning, her parents would notice her becoming very upset as they prepared to take her to crèche.
Yet in May 2013, RTE aired a documentary on the childcare facility as part of its Prime Time programme. The documentary, entitled “A Breach of Trust”, showed clips of carers in the crèche mistreating its charges, including one minder – who was responsible for Emilie – screaming at the children. As soon as Emilie’s parents saw this, they withdrew Emilie from the facility.
Upon seeking legal counsel, Emilie’s father, John, made a claim for psychological trauma on behalf of his daughter. In the claim, he alleged that Emilie’s change in behaviour was a direct consequence of her movement to the Toddlers’ Room. She would cry “No crèche” in the morning and had experienced terror, extreme upset and trauma in the facility. He alleged that he childcare facility had breached its duty of care to his daughter.
Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre contested the allegations, though did make an offer of psychological trauma to Emilie worth €15,000. This was made without an admission of liability, and as the claim was made on behalf of a minor, it had to be presented to a judge for approval.
Judge James O’Donoghue heard the case at the Circuit Civil Court, though he proposed that a higher settlement of compensation should be offered to Emilie, given the extent to which she suffered at the crèche.
Judge O’Donoghue then ruled that the case was to have a full hearing before a different judge. This will impact the rulings of up to twenty-five other claims for psychological trauma made on behalf of other children in the facility against the negligent crèche. Additionally, many parents – including Emilie’s – have commenced legal action against Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre for their breach of contract.
Posted: May 6th, 2015
A High Court judge has approved a €2.1 million interim settlement of compensation after hearing of birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon.
In April, the State Claims Agency´s clinical risk advisor – Mary Godfrey – called for national guidelines to be introduced for the use of Syntocinon during labour to improve outcomes for mothers and babies. Ms Godfrey´s appeal came after the Agency released a report showing an alarming lack of consistency in the way Syntocinon is used in maternity units throughout Ireland.
Syntocinon is the brand name of oxytocin – a synthetic drug frequently used in maternity units to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many expectant mothers it speeds up childbirth, helps the womb to contract after their child has been born and prevents excessive bleeding. However, Syntocinon can also cause adverse reactions with other medication and escalate foetal distress when an infant is deprived of oxygen in the womb.
A little over two weeks after Ms Godfrey raised concerns about the use of Syntocinon, a case came before the High Court concerning how a young boy – Patrick Brannigan of Castleblayeny, County Monaghan – suffered birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon at Cavan General Hospital in 2007. Patrick suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy, is barely able to communicate and is confined to a wheelchair.
The court heard how, after a CTG trace had shown indications of foetal distress, Syntocinon had been administered to Patrick´s mother – Niamh – to bring forward her labour. However, the increased level of contractions brought on by the drug resulted in Patrick being deprived of oxygen and suffering devastating birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon.
Through his mother Patrick made a claim for compensation for birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon and Cavan General Hospital admitted liability. A €2.1 interim settlement of compensation was negotiated and approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross at the High Court. Judge Cross then adjourned the claim for birth injuries due to the use of Syntocinon for three years so that reports can be compiled on Patrick´s future needs.
Posted: April 2nd, 2015
A €25,000 settlement of compensation for an accident on the Luas that happened seven years ago has been approved in the Circuit Civil Court.
On February 14 2008, Aoife Heron sustained a head injury as she, her mother and her younger sister were boarding a Luas at Connelly Street towards Jervis Street. Aoife – who was only six years old at the time – boarded the Luas ahead of her mother Elaine. But, as Elaine started to board with a buggy containing her younger daughter, the automatic doors of the Luas closed – trapping the buggy between them.
As there was an obstacle to the doors closing, they automatically opened and Elaine was able to retrieve the buggy. Aoife, who was still inside the carriage, attempted to join her mother and sister on the platform; but as she went to disembark, the automatic doors closed once again – trapping the little girl´s head between them and causing her to suffer a traumatic head injury.
Aoife was treated at the scene by an ambulance crew and later attended the family GP, where she was diagnosed with bruising and a soft tissue injury. As a result of her injury, Aoife – now thirteen years of age – has a slight scar on her head and has developed a fear of travelling on the Luas. Doctors believe that Aoife might have to undergo psychotherapy in the future to resolve her phobia.
Elaine Heron claimed compensation for an accident on the Luas against the operators of the service – Veolia Transport Dublin Light Rail Ltd – on behalf of her daughter, claiming that the transport company had been negligent and failed in its duty of care. Veolia denied its liability for Aoife´s head injury and prepared a full defence against the claim.
However, after a period of negotiation, a settlement of compensation for an accident on the Luas was agreed, and the settlement was presented to Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the Circuit Civil Court for approval. The judge was told the circumstances of Aoife´s accident and approved the settlement of compensation for an accident on the Luas – wishing the young girl all the best for the future.
Posted: April 10th, 2014
A settlement of compensation for an accident in Debenhams has been approved by a Circuit Court judge after he heard the circumstances of a schoolgirl´s finger injury.
Naoise Walsh (now nine years of age) was shopping in the Debenhams store in Henry Street with her mother in March 2011, when she attempted to get a drink from one of the fridges in the store´s café.
As Naoise reached up to get the drink carton, one of her fingers got caught in the wire mesh of the shelf on which the carton was standing and, as Naoise tried to pull her finger free, she cut it against the metal of the shelf.
Naoise was taken to the Children´s Hospital in Temple Street by ambulance, where her injured finger was cleaned and dressed. The next day, Naoise underwent a general anaesthetic so that doctors could see whether any permanent tendon damage had been sustained; after which Naoise had stitches in her finger and was discharged.
A claim for compensation for an accident in Debenhams was filed by Naoise´s mother – Amy Walsh of Bluebell, Dublin – and the company immediately admitted that their negligence had been responsible for Naoise´s injury.
A settlement of €10,000 injury compensation for the accident in Debenhams was negotiated; but before the claim could be completely resolved, the settlement had to be approved by a judge. Consequently, at the Circuit Civil Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was informed of the circumstances of Naoise´s injury before approving the settlement of compensation.
Posted: September 18th, 2013
A senior doctor has claimed that more could be done to reduce cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland and called on the HSE to provide more comprehensive cover for labour wards.
Dr Sam Coulter-Smith – Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin – was speaking at a conference organised to hear from doctors, midwives, families and members of the legal profession on how preventable cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland could be reduced.
He told attendees that one of the major reasons for cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland was that consultants work under a contract which only requires them to be present in a hospital from 8.00 in the morning to 8.00 in the evening. Outside of these hours, a senior doctor may be on call, but he could be many miles away when a medical emergency occurs.
The doctor said that this situation often results in inexperienced medical staff having to make decisions which affect the healthcare of mothers and their babies and said “there needs to be twenty-four hour cover of labour wards by senior doctors to address this problem.”
Dr Coulter-Smith informed the conference delegates that the annual number of cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland has remained the same over the past twenty years despite more foetal monitoring and more deliveries being conducted by Caesarean section.
The doctor continued by explaining the situation at his own hospital, where a second level of experienced junior doctors has been introduced to provide cover for labour wards outside of consultants´ contracted hours.
However Dr Coulter-Smith admitted that the creation of a second level of experienced junior doctors had been contrary to the instructions to reduce the number of medical staff employed at the hospital provided by the HSE.
The doctor commented that the State currently pays €45 million each year in compensation payments to victims of cerebral palsy due to hospital negligence – an amount equivalent to the Rotunda Hospital´s annual budget – and he suggested that investing more to reduce the number of cases of cerebral palsy in Ireland may be a more prudent option.