Firm agrees total interim damages of €10.2 million for woman who suffered severe brain injuries
Firm negotiate a further 10-year interim settlement for client at negative Discount Rates
Our client Ms E.L suffered a postpartum cerebral abscess with ventriculitis and brainstem meningoencephalitis in February 2007, approximately one week after giving birth to her first child.
Our client had presented at the accident and emergency unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, Co Louth, on 4th February, 2007, complaining of headaches.
She was diagnosed by a medical registrar as suffering from a urinary tract infection and dehydration. She was assessed by a midwife and later underwent a Caesarean section.
She was discharged on 11th February and continued to suffer from headaches and was vomiting. She attended her GP, Dr Mathuna’s clinic on 14th February. Dr Mathuna called to her on 17th February and told her he believed she could be suffering postnatal depression and exhaustion and prescribed a sedative.
Later that day, she collapsed. A CT scan revealed an abscess in her brain had burst. An earlier CT scan would have avoided the rupture and her subsequent catastrophic injuries.
As a result, Ms. Lennon became confined to a wheelchair and required 24 hour care upon her discharge from hospital. At that time, her previous accommodation was unsuitable to meet her needs and she began a lengthy residency in a nursing home. This was unsuitable for a young woman who wished to be reunited with her partner and daughter.
The matter has come before the Court on a number of previous occasions (2011, 2013, 2014,2015 and 2017) with the Defendants admitting liability on the first day of trial at the April 2011 hearing . Under the previous interim awards Ms. E.L had received a combined total of in excess of €5.2 million to cover for her care up to April 2022.
In May 2022, after several days of mediations and exhaustive difficult negotiations with the SCA/Defendants, this firm with the assistance of senior counsel were able to agree a further 10 year interim award of damages of €5 million bringing the total awards to date to in excess of €10.2 million. A major component of the current award is the sum of €3.9 million to cover the predicted cost of 24 hour personal care for the next decade.
The terms of settlement which we achieved for our client which the court approved were unique in two respects. Firstly, in the current era of very low market interest rates on investments in low risk Government stock, we were very concerned to ensure that the plaintiffs award was large enough to provide sufficient cover against the anticipated wage inflation in carers salaries over the next decade. Therefore, we in effect, negotiated a negative real rate of return (Discount rate) assumption of minus 3.25% on the award, which in effect provided an extra allowance of €700 k as a “hedge” to cover any wage inflation over the coming decade,
Secondly and uniquely, we agreed a specific term of the settlement with the Defendants that permits our client to go back to court within the next 10 years to apply for extra care compensation, in the event of her care award proving insufficient by reason of future inflationary wage pressures. These two features of the settlement will provide our client with the best possible reassurance that her award will protect her from any investment or inflation risks .
As a result of this most recent award our client, Ms. E.L will continue to have 24 hour care provided by 2 carers. This significant care package is required to maintain improvements in her mobility. Ms. E.L once wheelchair bound, can now walk with the assistance of two people. The intensive physiotherapy provided under previous awards assisted Ms. E.L in making such a considerable and life enhancing improvement.
Under the latest award Ms. E.L will also have access to a dietician, ophthalmologist, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, together with continued physiotherapy and a range of aids and appliances designed to increase her independence and improve her quality of life.
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