Legislation described as “shameful” as €8m settlement approved

12th May 2016

The President of the High Court has described as “shameful” the fact that legislation to allow for staged payments in cases of catastrophic injury has still not been enacted.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly made his remarks after approving a settlement of €8m in the case of 13-year-old boy Jamie Patterson who sued the Coombe Hospital over the circumstances of his birth.

His mother wept in the witness box as she told the judge she and her son were worn out by the constant round of assessments each time their case came back before the court.

Teresa Patterson said her son had gone through so much in 13 years with medical procedures, pain and constant appointments yet he “still has a smile on his face”.

She said he needed constant expert therapy and care and lot of specialised equipment just to survive a normal day.

Today’s settlement brings to €9.8m the total awarded to Jamie after an interim settlement of just over €1.8m was made two years ago.

The teenager, from Mountdown Park in Terenure, sued through his mother for alleged negligence at the time of his birth in November 2002.

The interim settlement was made without admission of liability.

The court was told Jamie has cerebral palsy and can only communicate through facial expressions and body language.

He is dependent on others for all his activities and will need round the clock care for the rest of his life.

It was claimed the hospital was negligent by failing to monitor his mother and guard against foetal distress after administering a drug to speed up labour. Liability was not admitted.

In court today, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said it was the third case this week that he had been asked to approve a final settlement in cases of families with severely disabled children who told him they could take no more of the courts system.

The judge said “these people have enough to contend with without having to contest trial after trial. This settlement will mean Jamie and his mother can say farewell to the Four Courts and litigation and lawyers”.

The judge also said he had long believed mediation should be used as an alternative, most particularly in medical malpractice litigation which was “bruising on plaintiffs and defendants”.

He said he could well understand why Ms Patterson was tired.

In a statement read to the court, the Coombe Hospital conveyed its “deepest sympathy” to Jamie, his parents and their families for the considerable adversity endured arising out of the circumstances of his birth.

The hospital said it wanted to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts and steps that Ms Patterson had taken in dealing with this very difficult situation.

Mr Justice Kelly also paid tribute to the care given by the boy’s mother.

He said he was very fortunate to have such a devoted mother who had given up her career and retrained as a carer.

“That is what mothers do,” he said.

He said no money could compensate for what happened but it could provide a better life for Jamie.

‘Heartbreaking to know things could have been different’

In her address to the court, Ms Patterson also said her son had “an amazing outlook on life even though he faces many challenges every day of his life”.

She continued: “Our lives were changed dramatically as a result and we had no choice but to go through a huge legal battle and try to get the best quality of life possible for Jamie.

“The settlement today will never make up for the damage cause to Jamie but we hope it will secure his future.

“No parents should ever have to go through the pain and heartache we have gone through and will continue to experience but most of all a child should never have their life compromised in the way Jamie’s has been.

“It is just heartbreaking to know things could have been different for him.

“I want to leave court today and not look back. We need to move forward with Jamie. What happened can never be forgotten or forgiven.

“Tomorrow we start a new chapter and I just know our brave happy little boy will go on to do amazing things. Jamie, we are so proud of you for all you have achieved to date. You are our inspiration.”

Ms Patterson also thanked family and friends and her legal team for the support given.

Source – RTE News

Original Article – http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0512/787937-settlement/