ACT News

Boy with cerebral palsy wins $7.5-million payout from ACT Government after lawsuit claimed negligence caused his disability

A boy has won a $7.5 million payout from the ACT Government after claiming medical negligence at the Canberra Hospital caused his severe cerebral palsy.

The lawsuit, launched by the boy's family on his behalf, alleged his disability and other serious medical conditions had been the result of a series of mistakes by medical staff. 

The trial – which had been scheduled to run for four weeks – started hearing evidence in the ACT Supreme Court last week.

But it was cut short when Justice John Burns signed off on the multi-million-dollar agreement (plus costs) on Wednesday morning.

Settlements involving a person under age 18 must be approved by the court.

The case against the government, which runs the Canberra Hospital, alleged negligence by the hospital and its employees.

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Court documents, filed by the boy's legal team at Blumers Lawyers, said, as a result, the boy suffered 40 different injuries, disabilities and other detrimental effects, including cerebral palsy, seizures, multi-organ damage, inability to walk, and cognitive impairment.

The lawsuit argued the ACT Government was therefore liable as it owed the boy a duty of care and had breached its contract with the mother.

The lawsuit alleged a number of failings by the hospital, including it had not diagnosed and managed the unstable lie, ignored the mother's description of the baby's movements, should not have called off the booked caesarean, failed to immediately monitor and assess the mother upon presentation at the hospital, and did not ensure the birth happened in a timely manner.

The lawsuit said the boy had suffered economic loss as he been permanently incapacitated from all forms of work, and claimed the cost of domestic assistance and out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatment and supervision, and for equipment and aids.

But the ACT initially fought the allegations, denying it had breached its duty of care or contract.

The government, in documents filed to the court before the trial, denied the plaintiff suffered injury loss and damage as alleged, and argued the boy was not entitled to compensation.

Court documents alleged the boy's brain and organs were deprived of oxygen at birth.

He was later diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

The lawsuit claimed the mother had an unstable lie of the foetus, which means the baby continued to change his position.

The baby had been in the breech position shortly before his birth in 2000.

As a result, a caesarean had been scheduled but it was cancelled when the child shifted positions.

The mother continued antenatal visits.

She went to the clinic after waking up and being unable to feel the baby move.

She was examined and the baby monitored before the doctors ordered a caesarean section.

The newborn was not breathing upon delivery and needed ventilation.

The boy spent 11 days in the neonatal intensive care unit before discharge.