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Woman Receives $2.3 Million Cerebral Palsy Settlement

Courtroom JusticeTwenty nine year-old Ruth Carmel Foley, who has suffered from dyskinetic cerebral palsy since birth, has recently won a large settlement from the High Court that heard her case against the HSE (the organization which provides and oversees Ireland’s public health services). The woman claimed that she suffered severe birth injuries at the hands of the medical personnel who delivered her, after they allegedly failed to react to signs of fetal distress. Ms. Foley, through her mother, took legal action against the HSE regarding the management of her childbirth at St Luke’s Hospital, in Kilkenny, Ireland.

According to the Irish Times, the plaintiff received a cerebral palsy settlement of approximately $2,320,742 US dollars, after it was determined that health care professionals in charge of the 1986 delivery of Foley acted in a manner that fell below the basic standard of care which medical providers of a similar training and background would have given.

Cerebral palsy settlement secured by plaintiff

The claim argued that at the time the mother was admitted to the hospital, with signs of a troublesome delivery, the hospital staff failed to act promptly to ensure the immediate transfer of Ms. Foley to the labor ward, even though labor had already begun. The defendants were also accused of failing to consistently monitor and observe the fetus and react swiftly to symptoms of fetal distress, which may indicate the baby is being deprived of adequate oxygen supplies in utero. During the trial the HSE denied the family’s claims, arguing that prejudice was inevitable due to the delayed proceedings and the fact that some of the defendants named in the suit were no longer alive.

Ultimately, the cerebral palsy lawsuit was settled by Justice Michael Moriarty of the High Court, who praised the heroic efforts of Ruth Foley’s parents in their round-the clock care for their disabled daughter.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy may be caused by trauma or damage to the developing fetal brain.  This may occur when the fetus experiences hypoxia (oxygen deprivation), caused by placental abruption, umbilical cord problems, or a failure to order an emergency Cesarean section delivery in times of fetal distress, among other reasons.

In the case of Ruth Foley, she suffers from dyskinetic cerebral palsy, which is traced back to damage to the basal ganglia of the brain. This part of the brain is in charge of controlling and regulating voluntary movements in the body. As a result of the damage, patients afflicted with dyskinetic cerebral palsy usually have involuntary movements in the arms, legs, trunk and face.

These may manifest as repetitive twisting movements, sudden unpredictable movements and slow, “stormy” movements of the body.

Foley, according to court documents, has no control over the movement of her arms and legs and is unable to walk. For this reason, her parents have been charged with her care since she is unable to perform even the most basic of tasks.  While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the symptoms associated with the disorder typically do not worsen over time.

For those whose cerebral palsy diagnosis can be traced back to malpractice during childbirth, legal action is often the most effective means to secure much needed financial support to pay for ongoing care, medical bills, special schooling and equipment, and other needs that can be especially burdensome for a family of limited means.

  1. The Irish Times, Cerebral palsy sufferer who claimed birth injury secures €2.1m

  2. CDC – Data & Statistics for Cerebral Palsy,

  3. Livestrong, Hypoxia of a newborn,