A 27-year-old woman with cerebral palsy who sued over the care she received after her birth at a now closed private maternity hospital in Cork city has settled her High Court action for €12 million.
Her mother after the High Court approved the settlement described it as life changing for her daughter Jane Harte who cannot speak or walk and has spastic quadriplegia.
Jane had taken the case over her care at City General Hospital, Infirmary Road, Cork in 1995 where her mother Olivia Harte, who was then 16 years of age was a patient.
Outside the Four Court her mother Olivia Harte from Cork city said her daughter who has been living at the Cope Foundation facility in Montenotte, Cork city will now be able to return home.
“She is going to have a life with her family and siblings which she always deserved and which was taken from us really.”
Ms Harte added: “This is life changing for all of us and especially Jane. Her life can improve from here on forward and she can return home. It will mean she can get physio, and she will be able to swim which she loves, It is going to change her life to the best of her ability she will have a far better quality of life.”
She said it was only in the last couple of years she had begun to investigate her daughter’s case and “Thank God, I did.” She said as difficult the process was she was glad she stuck it out.
The case was against retired consultant and gynaecologist Pallany Pillay (88) also of Cork city who was the proprietor of City General Hospital which closed in 2000.
Mr Pillay was also a consultant at the hospital and Jane’s mother, Olivia was his private patient.
Liability was contested in the case and the settlement is without an admission of liability. It followed mediation talks between the parties .
At the opening of the action, Jane’s Counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC instructed by Callan Tansey solicitors told the court it was their case that after she was born healthy, Baby Jane had significant difficulty with her breathing and “went dramatically downhill”.
Counsel said when she was transferred to the Erinville Hospital at 17 hours old, she was “literally in extremis with severe septic shock” and later meningitis.
Dr O’Mahony told the court that it was their case appropriate steps should have been taken at City General Hospital and if given antibiotics, Baby Jane would have recovered.
Counsel said it was their contention that there was “ample opportunity to intervene when the baby required antibiotics, but” it was left too late when nothing could be done.”
Dr O’Mahony said the private hospital was high end and luxury with hotel standard accommodation, but he said “there was a lot left to be desired in terms of service.’
Jane, Counsel said is “profoundly, permanently and irreversibly disabled” and has to use a wheelchair.
Counsel for Mr Pillay, Adrienne Egan SC told the court at the opening of the case it was accepted that the baby developed meningitis but what was at issue was when the relevant symptoms arose.
Counsel said that records from the closed hospital had been destroyed in 2015 and these proceedings had been initiated three years ago.
Approving the settlement Mr Justice Paul Coffey said the litigation risk in the case was too great and he was delighted the case had been resolved.
In the proceedings it was claimed Baby Jane started to grunt after her birth on October 8th, 1995.
Despite showing persistent worsening respiratory distress the baby it was claimed did not receive any antibiotics.
It was claimed this was despite her mother and other relatives who were present at the hospital repeatedly expressing their serious concerns for the baby’s well bring.
Baby Jane at 17 hours old was transferred to the neonatal until of the then Erinville Hospital , Cork in her grandmother’s car and accompanied by a midwife.
On the baby’s arrival at the Erinville, it was claimed she was close to death.
It was claimed there was a delay in the treatment of the baby’s Group B streptococcus early onset sepsis and meningitis.
It was claimed that had she been treated appropriately when she first exhibited respiratory distress she would not have developed septic shock and meningitis.
The alleged delay in administering antibiotics it was claimed allegedly caused the baby to develop septic shock and meningitis which caused her brain damage