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Local midwifery clinic settles $9.75 million lawsuit

Child born in 2007 will never live independently or be employed, statement says

A local midwifery clinic settled a lawsuit against her for $9.75 million, with much of the funds earmarked to support a child for the rest of their life.

Last month, the Superior Court of Justice approved an out-of-court settlement reached between the Guelph midwives, the child’s parents and others.

“I am of the opinion that the proposed settlement of the action is fair and reasonable and is in the best interests of the minor plaintiff,” wrote the judge who oversaw the case in approving the settlement. “With respect to the settlement of this action in terms of liability and damages, I am of the view that the proposed settlement represents not only a fair and reasonable settlement, but a resolution of a very complex and potentially risky matter. At the trial.”

The bulk of the settlement, approximately $7 million, will go towards the child’s lifetime care; $5.64 million after payment of fees, taxes and costs. An additional $1.35 million is to be split between the parents, with the remaining funds going to three other plaintiffs.

As stated in the statement, the child suffered from multiple organ dysfunction and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He is at “high risk” for impaired motor function, cognitive function and learning “which will be permanent throughout his life” and requires daily care. He will never be able to live independently and will not be employable.

Several attempts to contact Guelph midwives for comment were unsuccessful.

A lawyer representing the child’s family declined to comment.

The lawsuit stems from a planned home birth in July 2007, which saw the mother taken from her home in Guelph to Groves Memorial Community Hospital in Fergus in the midst of giving birth after “prolonged labour”. The child was later transferred to St. Joseph’s Hospital in London with “impaired liver function, impaired renal function, altered haematological parameters, metabolic acidosis and decreased blood pressure”.

It is alleged that two midwives failed to “treat the dysfunctional labor” and did not advise the mother of the risks of persisting with a home birth despite her prolonged labor, and of failing to “provide intervention and appropriate consultation with a doctor”, as well as insufficient documentation.

None of the charges have been proven in court.

In a separate court filing, the Guelph midwives and the midwives involved denied the allegations against them.

“These defendants state that they used all reasonable skill and care in their treatment of (the mother and child,” notes their statement of defense. “These defendants deny that they were negligent, breached any duty of diligence or breached any contract and put the plaintiffs to strict proof thereof.

The lawsuit, which initially sought $13.175 million, also named Groves Memorial Community Hospital and two doctors, but the suit against them was dismissed last April.

As noted in the court’s approval of the settlement, the agreement comes after two pre-trial conferences and private mediation.