Medical Negligence

Success Stories

Young girl with spinal injury settles case for €7.1 million.


A young girl has secured a 7.1 million settlement from the Children’s University Hospital claiming negligence in the circumstances of spinal fusion and decompression surgeries.

Ellie May was born with Down Syndrome and developed ligamentous instability at the craniovertebral junction with associated risk of spinal cord compression. Ellie May underwent four spinal surgeries namely to fuse and decompress her spine. She suffered injuries as a result of her third and fourth surgeries. Ellie May’s neurological condition deteriorated rapidly following her return to the ward post her fourth surgery. Following some substantial delay, Ellie May was eventually diagnosed as having sustained spinal cord compression due to a haematoma that had developed at the site of her surgical wound. She required emergency surgery to remove the haematoma. The haematoma was evacuated and she required ventilation for two days and was left with severe weakness of all four limbs. Ellie May remained in paediatric intensive care after the operation and missed two years of school following the operation.

Ellie May was subsequently admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital where she underwent corrective surgery. Ellie May is now wheelchair dependent; she cannot walk independently and unaided. She can walk a limited distance but only with assistance. Her upper limbs are also weakened.

As a result, proceedings were issued on her behalf seeking damages for alleged negligence in and about the investigation, diagnosis, management, treatment and care of her presenting condition of instability of the CVJ, the advice to undergo the surgeries, the carrying out of the surgeries, and the investigation, diagnosis, management, treatment and/or care of the haematoma complication which arose from the fourth surgery. Liability was extremely complex in this case but ultimately the Defendant’s admitted liability in respect of the fourth surgery.

Ellie May’s case was specially fixed to commence on the 24th September 2020. Settlement discussions began on the morning of the 24th on the steps of Court. We, on Ellie May and her parent’s behalf strongly resisted the Defendant’s argument that the damages ought to be appreciably reduced on account of Ellie May’s underlying condition of Down Syndrome. Ellie May is a bright, sociable, ambitious young lady who was capable of being independent but for the negligent procedures she underwent and her resulting physical disabilities.

Ellie May’s case was successfully settled in the afternoon of the 24th September 2020 for 7.1 million and was subsequently ruled by Mr Justice Cross. Ellie May joked with Mr Justice Cross about having the day off school, demonstrating that despite her physical mobility issues, she continues to be a sociable, witty and charming young lady.

We at Michael Boylan Litigation are delighted to have been able to successfully resolve our client’s case and wish Ellie May and her family every success for the future.

The Irish Times' article in relation to the above case can be found at the below link:

For further information please contact Michael Boylan of our office.