€37k award for Woman in Sexual Harrassment Case

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has awarded a €37,000 payout to a woman who claim that she was sexually harassed and had felt pressurised to massage antibiotic cream into her employer’s back and groin.

The woman, a former food service worker, took a legal action in relation to the the payment of wages, unfair dismissal and sexual harassment against her previous employer. The claims were found to be credible by the adjudication officer presiding over the case. The officer also disregarded  the findings of an investigator, who was hired by the employer, who had found that there was no bullying or harassmen previously.

The woman in question advised the WRC that she was subjected to “ongoing bullying and harassment and intolerable working conditions during the course of her employment which had a detrimental effect on her health and well-being”. It was claimed that she worked 25-30 hours a week but was only paid €200 regardless of the hours that she worked.

Additionally, she advised her solicitor that there had been attempts to bribe her into withdrawing her complaints and also that her previous co-employees were obstructed from speaking out on her behalf. She claimed that she was diagnosed with a mental health condition, and was on medication for depression while employed in the role.

The WRC was advised by a witness that the employer “deliberately belittled and put down the claimant”, while another witness stated it was “common knowledge that the claimant was on medication for her mental health issues and that the respondent was constantly on her back and that she was often crying”.

The case for defence rested on the evidence of an investigator that the employer hired when the woman requested her P45 in September 2015. Despite concerns regarding the impartiality of the investigator the woman agreed to the review being carried out.

The WRC adjudicator upheld the claim of sexual harassment, and awarded the complainant in question €17,450. Overall she was awarded €37,450 sexual harassment compensation.


Claiming Compensation for a Botched Lip Implant

Seek professional legal advice before claiming compensation for a botched lip implant to make sure you are eligible to claim for injury compensation.

Claims for compensation for a botched lip implant are dealt with in the same way as a medical negligence claim – or, if the botched lip implant is attributable to a faulty product, a product liability claim. As neither of these categories of claim comes under the Injuries Board´s remit, you will have to use a solicitor to claim compensation for a botched lip implant.

However, before you start the claims process, it is important to understand that not every injury sustained in a botched lip implant procedure is eligible for compensation. If, for example, you developed an infection after being informed that there was a risk of infection, you more than likely waived your right to compensation when you signed the consent form.

In order for claims for compensation for a botched lip implant to be successful, it has to be shown that the injury you sustained was not a known risk of the procedure (that you likely acknowledged on the consent form) and was due to a lack of skill by your cosmetic surgeon. In order to prove negligence, your solicitor will likely engage the services of a medical expert.

If negligence is proven – and liability for your injury admitted by either the negligent surgeon or the manufacturer of a faulty lip implant – how much compensation for a botched lip implant you are entitled to can vary considerably depending on the nature of the injury, its long-term consequences for your quality of life and whether or not the injury can be revised.

While negotiations are ongoing to agree a settlement of your claim, it is advisable to be wary of any approaches from the surgeon´s or manufacturer´s insurance company with an offer of settlement, as these rarely reflect the true value of your claim. To find out more about claiming compensation for a botched lip implant, speak with a solicitor at the first practical opportunity.


Settlement of Creche Abuse Claim Approved after Second Court Hearing

The settlement of a creche abuse claim has been approved by a judge at the Circuit Civil Court after the approval of a previous proposal had been denied.

At the Circuit Civil Court last week, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard that the plaintiff on whose behalf the creche abuse claim was made was just two years of age when she started attending the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre in Stepaside, County Dublin.

In September 2012, the young girl was transferred to the creche´s “Toddler´s Room”; after which, it was alleged, she started showing signs of anxiety. According to her parent´s testimony, the girl would cry “No creche. No creche” as she was being got ready each morning, and was often withdrawn and tired when she was collected each evening.

The girl´s parents discussed their concerns about the signs of anxiety and disturbed sleep patterns with her carer, but were told she was receiving an appropriate level of supervision. However, after watching the RTE documentary “A Breach of Trust” – in which their daughter´s carer was depicted being abusive to children in the same age group, the parents removed the girl from the creche and sought legal advice.

A creche abuse claim was subsequently made against the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre on the grounds that the girl had suffered emotional injuries. Liability was initially denied, but an offer of settlement was made amounting to €15,000 without an admission of liability. As the creche abuse claim had been made on behalf of a child, it first had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the girl´s best interest.

In July 2015, the circumstances behind the creche abuse claim were related to Judge James O´Donohue at the Circuit Civil Court. Judge O´Donohue ruled that the proposed settlement of the crèche abuse claim was insufficient for the level of injury it was claimed the girl had suffered and he refused to approve the settlement.

Following a period of negotiation, a further offer of settlement was made to the girl´s parents. On this occasion, the approval hearing was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The circumstances of the girl´s alleged emotional injuries were once again related to the court and, after Judge Groarke was assured that the girl had suffered no lasting psychological injury – he approved the settlement.


Claim for Being Stuck in a Shopping Centre Lift Resolved at Court

A claim for being stuck in a shopping centre lift has been resolved at a High Court hearing with an award of €25,060 psychological injuries compensation.

In August 2012, fifty-four year old Marie Dicker was shopping at the Square in Tallaght, Dublin, when she and her son took the shopping centre lift down to the ground floor. However, soon after the lift started to descend, it stopped – trapping Marie and her son inside.

Marie pressed the elevator alarm button, but was unable to communicate with anyone via the intercom. She then started banging on the lift doors and calling for help and, several minutes later, the couple were rescued by a security guard who was able to prise the doors open and release the trapped shoppers.

Despite being trapped inside the lift for less than five minutes, Marie unfortunately suffered a recurrence of childhood claustrophobia. Due to feeling unsafe in rooms with closed doors, Marie sought professional medical help and was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder by a psychologist.

After starting treatment for her psychological injuries, Marie – a department store supervisor from Walkinstown in Dublin – sought legal advice. She subsequently made a compensation claim for being stuck in a shopping centre lift against Square Management Ltd and Pickering Lifts Ltd.

Both defendants acknowledged that Marie had suffered an avoidable injury due to the failure of the lift, but they disputed how much compensation Marie was claiming. They presented evidence from an independent psychologist who had examined Marie and failed to find any evidence of an anxiety disorder.

The claim for being stuck in a shopping centre lift went to the High Court in Dublin for the assessment of damages. At the hearing, Mr Justice Anthony Barr was told that Marie was undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy to deal with her claustrophobia and was responding well to the program. The treatment is expected to continue for twelve to eighteen months.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Barr commented he was satisfied that Marie had suffered a psychiatric injury as a direct result of the incident at the Square, and he awarded her €25,060 compensation in settlement of her claim for being stuck in a shopping centre lift.


UN Says State should Allow Terminations for Fatal Foetal Abnormalities

The United Nations´ Human Rights Committee has said that Ireland should revise the Eighth Amendment to allow terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities.

Under Ireland´s current abortion laws, the right to life of an unborn child is protected by the Eighth Amendment. New laws were introduced in 2013 to allow abortions when the mother´s health is at risk, but a ban remains on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities and inevitable miscarriages, and when a pregnancy is attributable to rape or incest.

Due to the ban on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, 21-weeks pregnant Amanda Mellet was forced to travel to the UK for a termination after being told that her unborn child would die in the womb or shortly after birth. Amanda endured a traumatic experience due to there being little information available to her before undergoing the procedure and no bereavement support available to her on her return to Ireland.

After founding the organization “Termination for Medical Reasons” in order to campaign for a change to the law, Amanda made a complaint to the United Nations´ Human Rights Committee through the Centre for Reproductive Rights – claiming that Ireland´s ban on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities was discriminatory, cruel, inhuman and degrading.

Last week the Committee found in Amanda´s favour – saying that Amanda´s physical and emotional well-being had been jeopardised by Ireland´s position on terminations for fatal foetal abnormalities, that Amanda had been subjected to unnecessary financial and emotional suffering, and that the State should compensate her for failing to allow an abortion “in the familiar environment of her own country and under the care of health professionals whom she knew and trusted.”

The Human Rights Committee also said that Ireland should introduce laws – or revise the Eighth Amendment as necessary – in order to provide “effective, timely and accessible procedures for pregnancy termination in Ireland, and take measures to ensure that healthcare providers are in a position to supply full information on safe abortion services without fearing being subjected to criminal sanctions.”

Speaking after the decision of Human Rights Committee had been announced, Leah Hoctor – the European Regional Director for the Centre for Reproductive Rights – said: “The Irish Government must now comply with this ruling, redress the harm Ms Mellet suffered and reform its laws to ensure other women do not continue to face similar violations.”


Compensation for Emotional Shock during a Mock Armed Robbery Approved by Judge

Two settlements of compensation for emotional shock during a mock armed robbery have been approved by a judge at the Circuit Civil Court.

Eight-year-old Casie and eleven-year-old Abbie Kennedy were shopping with their mother in the Dundrum Shopping Centre in March 2013, when they heard a man swearing at the staff in the H&M shop – ordering them to open the till and get on the ground.

Trapped in the shop´s changing room, and unaware that they were witnessing part of a training exercise, Claudia and her terrified daughters stayed in the changing room until the shouting stopped. Only then did Claudia look outside the door of the changing room; but, unable to see anything, she kept the girls in the changing room until she could hear voices in the shop.

Claudia escorted the sisters into the store and asked the manager what had happened. Angry that nobody had thought to check for the presence of customers in the changing room before staging the mock armed robbery, Claudia rang the H&M head office in England to complain.

Unhappy with a curt apology and the offer of a €30 voucher, Claudia claimed compensation for emotional shock during a mock armed robbery on behalf of her daughters. In her legal action against H&M Hennes &Mauritz (Ireland) Ltd, Claudia alleged that Casie and Abbie had feared for their lives and the life of their mother during the incident.

H&M Hennes &Mauritz (Ireland) Ltd made offers of compensation for emotional shock during a mock armed robbery to Casie (€8,000) and Abbie (€10,000). At the Circuit Civil Court, Judge Rory MacCabe heard the family was willing to accept the offers and, after hearing that Casie and Abbie continued to suffer nightmares as a result of their experience, the judge approved the settlements.


Mother Files Claim for a Child being Scalded on an Aer Lingus Flight

A woman from New York has filed a claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight after her son was burned by hot liquid being spilled on him.

The claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight does not contain much in the way of detail about how the accident happened, only that the unnamed boy flying from Dublin to JFK International Airport in New York was “injured as a result of scalding hot liquid” on June 30th, 2014.

The boy´s mother alleges that her son´s injuries occurred as a result of negligence by a member of the flight crew – a claim that Aer Lingus denies – and that, as a result of the accident, the boy “was deprived of his enjoyment of life, pursuits and interests and in the future will be deprived on the same”.

Under the Montreal Convention, Aer Lingus is liable to pay compensation for any avoidable injuries that occur during a flight irrespective of how the injury occurred. Negotiations to resolve the claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight are scheduled to take place at the end of the month. It is understood that the airline has requested a copy of the boy´s medical records to assess the level of compensation he may be entitled to.

Mediation Continuing in Second Aer Lingus Scalding Injury Claim

The claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight is the second claim of this nature that the airline has received recently in the US. Last August, a similar claim was filed in Jacksonville, Florida, on behalf of a ten-year-old girl allegedly scalded by hot tea during a flight from Dublin to Orlando.

The parents of the injured ten-year-old are claiming $75,000 compensation for the burns sustained by their daughter, when hot tea spilled onto her from a cup on which the lid had not been properly attached. The girl – who prior to her accident was a “successful amateur competitive surfer” – suffered burns to her lower torso and thighs and may need plastic surgery in the future.

Although Aer Lingus is again liable for compensation under the Montreal Convention, the airline is disputing the amount of compensation being claimed. Mediation is continuing in this Aer Lingus scalding injury claim in the hope that a suitable compromise can be agreed without the need for court action.

Aer Lingus Flight Injury Compensation Awarded in Ireland

The claims against Aer Lingus in the US for a child being scalded on a flight are not the first that the airline has had to contend with. In June 2011, five-year-old Sophie Gorman from Knocklyon in Dublin was scalded on an Aer Lingus flight from London when a stewardess attempted to place a cup of tea on the table in front of Sophie´s mother, and spilled some of the hot tea on Sophie´s leg.

On her daughter´s behalf, Sophie´s mother made a claim for a child being scalded on an Aer Lingus flight due to the ongoing treatment Sophie had to receive after returning to Dublin and the small pigment irregularity Sophie now has on her leg. In July 2012, a €7,000 offer of settlement from Aer Lingus was approved in the Dublin Circuit Civil Court by Mr Justice Matthew Deery.


Judge Says €15,000 Compensation for Crèche Psychological Trauma Insufficient

A judge at the Circuit Civil Court has refused to approve a settlement of compensation for crèche psychological trauma, saying that €15,000 is not enough.

Emilie Kiely (4) from Sandyford in Dublin started attending the Giraffe crèche in Stepaside in 2011 when she was just eight months old. In September 2012, Emilie was moved to the “Toddlers Room”, after which she would become stressed and anxious when her parents were preparing to take her to the childcare facility.

The crèche was exposed in May 2013 by the RTE Prime Time documentary “A Breach of Trust” for allegedly mistreating children in its care. Emilie´s parents withdrew their daughter from the childcare facility after they saw one of the minders responsible for looking after their daughter screaming at children in the program.

After seeking legal advice, Emilie´s father – John – claimed compensation for crèche psychological trauma, alleging that his daughter´s behaviour had changed after her transfer to the Toddlers Room and would cry “No crèche! No crèche”. John claimed that his daughter had suffered stress, emotional upset and terror due to a breach in the crèche’s duty of care.

The claims were denied by the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre, but an offer of compensation for crèche psychological trauma amounting to €15,000 was made to Emilie´s parents without an admission of liability. As the offer of compensation was in favour of a minor, the settlement had to be approved by a judge before the case could be closed.

Consequently the circumstances of Emilie´s alleged psychological trauma were heard by Judge James O´Donohue at the Circuit Civil Court. Judge O´Donohue ruled that the proposed settlement of compensation for crèche psychological trauma was insufficient for the level of injury that it was claimed Emilie had suffered.

He ruled that the case should go to a full hearing before another judge – a decision that will affect up to twenty-five other compensation claims for psychological trauma that have been made on behalf of children that attended the Giraffe childcare facility. The Kiely´s – and many of the other parents – have also initiated legal action against the crèche for breach of contract. That claim is yet to be resolved.


Fatal Car Accident Compensation Approved by Court

The mother of a toddler, who was killed when her neighbour´s car ran over her, has had a settlement of €36,188 fatal car accident compensation approved in the Circuit Civil Court.

Lily Rose O´Toole was nearly two years old when, on 3rd March 2013, she was playing in the front garden of her family home in Tallaght, Dublin. Her mother – Ruth – took her eyes off of her daughter for just a few minutes while she chatted with a neighbour who was just about to leave in her car.

After a short conversation, Ruth turned back towards her own garden and could not see Lily Rose. She then heard a bang and turned around to see her daughter at the back of the neighbour´s car. Lily Rose had been able to get up and walk a couple of steps, but when Ruth picked her daughter up, she noticed a graze on Lily Rose´s forehead.

Lily Rose was taken to Tallaght Hospital, but died shortly after of intra-abdominal bleeding caused by internal injuries.

Ruth made a claim for fatal car accident compensation against her neighbour – Esther Dillon – under the Civil Liability Act 1962, alleging that she and Lily Rose´s step-brother – Patrick – had suffered mental distress. Ms Dillon´s liability was accepted by her car insurers and a settlement of €36,188 was agreed.

Because part of the settlement was for Lily Rose´s ten-year-old brother, the settlement of fatal car accident compensation had to be approved by a judge before the claim could be resolved. Consequently, the case was brought before Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge Groarke was told the circumstances of the tragic accident, and the distribution of the settlement of fatal car accident compensation. The judge approved the settlement and expressed the court´s deep sympathy – saying that the loss of a child was a horrible thing to happen to any mother.


Judgement Reserved in Test Result Mix-Up Claim

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon has reserved judgement in a test result mix-up claim for compensation in which a woman was incorrectly told she had the HIV virus.

Judge O´Hanlon at the High Court heard that Michelle Kenny (35) from Crumlin in Dublin had returned from a  holiday in Majorca feeling unwell and – on 17th August 2010 – attended the St James Hospital in Dublin, where she underwent an ECG and blood tests, and had an x-ray taken of her chest.

Michelle was kept in hospital for a week as doctors believed she may have a blood clot on her lung, but was discharged on August 23rd to await the result of a blood test for TB. When she returned to the Outpatients Clinic on October 6th for an assessment, Michelle also underwent a blood test for HIV.

The following week, Michelle´s doctor rang her to say that, although she was clear of TB, her HIV test result had indicated positive. Three further tests showed that a mistake had been made, and that Michelle was not at risk from the HIV virus; however, as Michelle told the court, “I was devastated. I thought I was going to die, that I had no future.”

After an investigation revealed that the doctor at St James Hospital had given her the wrong person´s results, Michelle sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for nervous shock against the hospital – alleging that the news, albeit wrong, had stopped her socializing and caused a change in her lifestyle.

St James contested the test result mix-up claim for compensation on the grounds that Michelle had not suffered any loss or damage. They argued that Michelle had been told quickly after the mistake had been identified that she did not have HIV and denied that she was entitled to any compensation for a test result mix-up.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said she would reserve judgement on the claim for test result mix-up compensation for a later date.


Judge Resolves Claim for Hospital´s Lack of Care after Birth

A judge has resolved a forty-year-old woman´s claim for a hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child which resulted in a significant loss of blood due to haemorrhaging.

Honey Larkin brought her claim for a hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child following the events of January 2008 at the Letterkenny General Hospital in County Donegal.

Honey had given birth to her final child by Caesarean section, but started haemorrhaging heavily while in recovery. Honey claimed in her action against consultant gynaecologist Eddie Aboud and the Health Service Executive (HSE) that she had a near-death experience due to the loss of blood while she was waiting for the hospital to arrange a further surgery to stop the bleeding.

Honey – who also comes from Letterkenny in County Donegal – claimed that neither the staff at the hospital nor Mr Aboud checked for indications of bleeding after the Caesarean operation; and when the cause of her distress was acknowledged the hospital failed to act appropriately within a reasonable timeframe. The result, Honey claimed, is that she now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Both Mr Aboud and the HSE contested Honey´s claim for the hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child; entering the defence that she was treated appropriately throughout and after the Caesarean procedure, and in a timely manner once staff raised the alarm about the haemorrhage. Consequently the case went to the High Court and was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

At the hearing, Judge Cross was told that no internal haemorrhaging had been apparent when Mr Aboud had finished the Caesarean operation; but, when he was called back to attend to Honey, he performed the second operation quickly and successfully. Judge Cross said he felt that Mr Aboud could not be held liable for any of Honey´s suffering and dismissed the gynaecologist from the case.

However, after considering the actions of the hospital once Honey´s condition had been identified, Judge Cross found that the Letterkenny General Hospital had failed in their duty of care towards her. He ordered the HSE to pay €25,000 compensation in resolution of Honey´s claim for the hospital´s lack of care after the birth of her child.


Compensation for Injury Caused by Broken Chair Awarded in Court

A Canberra woman, who made a claim for compensation for an injury caused by a broken chair at work, has had her claim resolved in court for more than AU$1 million.

Terry Anne Downie was employed as a team leader for the Community Information and Referral Service in the Australian Capital Territory when, in June 2002, she purchased furniture for her office from the ex-government furniture outlet – Fyshwick – including a chair for her own use at work.

In October of the same year, Terry Anne was sitting on the chair while using the telephone when two legs of the chair snapped and she fell to the floor. A co-worker who saw the accident said that she heard a loud crack and then witnessed Terry Anne struggling to get up.

Terry Anne was taken to hospital, where scans revealed that a bulging disc inflamed by the accident was in contact with a nerve root. Doctors were unable to fix the injury and Terry Anne – now 51 years of age – suffers from ongoing pain, mental illness, sexual dysfunction and a permanent sensation, described in court, of ants under the skin of her legs.

In 2005, Terry Anne was paid Au$190,000 in worker´s compensation for an injury caused by a broken chair at work but also made a private claim for personal injury compensation against the chair´s importer – Jantom – claiming that the product was faulty when it was supplied to Fyshwick. Terry Anne´s employers also made a claim against Jantom to recover the amount of worker´s compensation they had paid her.

At the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, Judge Master David Harper found in favour of Terry Anne and her employer after hearing expert evidence that plastic moulding on the base of the chair had failed in a catastrophic manner when two of five supporting spokes had broken.

The judge said “Terry Anne has many years ahead of pain and depression. Her life is very different to the life she could have expected if it had not been for her injury. Her enjoyment of life, and the kind of life she is able to lead, have been altered immeasurably.”

He awarded her Au$933,030 compensation for an injury caused by a broken chair at work plus a further Au$112,000 in special damages to cover her medical expenses. Terry Anne´s employer was also able to recover the compensation already paid to Terry Anne and the costs of raising the claim for an injury caused by a broken chair at work.


Airline Offers Compensation for Plane Crash Survivors

Asiana Airlines has offered an initial payment of compensation for a plane crash to the 288 survivors of Flight 214 that crashed on its approach to San Francisco International Airport last month.

Three people died in the crash – two from injuries sustained in the accident and a third who was tragically run over by a fire truck racing to the plane´s assistance – which is suspected to have occurred due to the plane from Seoul approaching too low and clipping a seawall at the perimeter of the airport.

Following the accident 181 passengers were taken to hospital where forty-nine still remain in a serious condition. Due to the number of passengers that sustained major spine injuries, doctors believe several patients could be permanently disabled.

Investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board are yet to confirm the exact cause of the accident; however Asiana Airlines has already made a preliminary offer of compensation for a plane crash to all the survivors for the emotional trauma they suffered.

The offer of $10,000 is a preliminary amount offered under US law, and – under the Montreal Convention – is not conditional on passengers waiving their right to claiming further compensation for a plane crash.

The final value of future compensation settlements may not be known for many months and will depend on whether the passenger is a citizen of the United States (in which case US levels of plane crash compensation apply) or whether they have to claim compensation for a plane crash from the airline under the Montreal Convention.


Woman Awarded Compensation for Injuries from Symphysiotomy

A woman, who underwent a symphysiotomy procedure at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in 2000, has been awarded €591,297 compensation for injuries from symphysiotomy by the High Court.

Tracey Nelson (45) from Navan in County Meath underwent the procedure prior to the delivery of her second child, when medical staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda failed to correctly diagnose the symptoms of symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD).

After suffering for many years with the physical discomfort from the symphysiotomy, Tracey underwent surgery in 2004 to stabilise her condition and again, in 2007, had to have a spinal cord stimulator fitted – since when Tracey has been relatively free of pain.

However, as Tracey related to Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at the High Court, she has also suffered emotionally due to the negligence of the medical staff who failed in their duty of care to manage her pregnancy.

Tracey told the court she had developed fibromyalgia – where she had constant pain in her muscles and joints – and due to the pain, started to drink alcohol heavily. This resulted in the break-up of her marriage and, in turn, to depression.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital denied their liability for Tracey´s injuries, but Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill ruled that he was satisfied from the medical evidence there was a failure to diagnose SPD on February 2nd when Tracey attended the hospital complaining of pain in the pelvic area.

The judge said there was no doubt that the “primary cause” of Tracey´s physical and psychological injuries was the negligence of the HSE and “terrible consequences” of it. “I am quite satisfied that the failures in this regard fell substantially below the standard of care to be expected of doctors practising obstetrics in a maternity unit such as Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda,” he said.

Awarding Tracey €591,297 in compensation for injuries from symphysiotomy, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said that he was also satisfied the doctors and midwives who attended Ms Nelson were “oblivious” to her SPD condition and consequently took no precautions to prevent the risk of avoidable injury during the course of her labour.


Details of Garda Compensation for Assault Settlements Revealed

The total of Garda compensation for assault settlements paid in 2012 amounted to €6.7 million according to figures revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The figure brought the total value of Garda compensation for assault settlements since 2000 to over €13.4 million and, among the 121 cases detailed, the most common complaints were soft-tissue injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and back injuries.

All the injuries sustained by Garda officers were as a result of malicious acts of violence and included a Garda who was struck on the head with a bottle, three cases where Gardai had suffered from depression after being threatened with shotguns and six incidents in which Gardai were injured by human bites.

The second highest ever award of Garda compensation for assault was made last year – a Garda receiving just under €790,000 for back injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder following an assault – but less than the €990,000 award made to a Garda who was shot in the knee in 2008.

Earlier this month, an award of €45,000 compensation for Garda injuries was made in the High Court to Garda Bernard McLoughlin, after he sustained injuries to his hip and leg after being involved in a ramming incident in which his friend and colleague was killed.

Commenting on the Garda compensation for assault settlements, John Parker – president of the Garda Representative Association – said “while the injuries contained in the Garda database were at the extreme end of the assaults suffered by Gardai during the course of their duties, they underlined the “high-risk work” of members of the force”.

Last year, the Government approved proposals for a revised Garda compensation scheme which would enable the State Claims Agency to administer the scheme on behalf of the Garda Commissioner. The proposals aim to reduce the length of time injured Gardai have to wait for Garda compensation for assault settlements and it is expected that the revised Garda compensation scheme will save the State about €3 million annually in reduced legal fees and administrative costs.


Woman Awarded €170,000 Stillborn Child Compensation

A woman, who child was delivered stillborn due to the necessary blood not being available on an ambulance, has been awarded €170,000 stillborn child compensation in the High Court.

Fiona Ni Chonchubhair (36) from Killarney, County Kerry, was thirty-one weeks pregnant when she attended the Tralee Hospital in May 2009 suffering from internal bleeding. An ambulance was arranged to transfer her to Cork University Hospital – some 71 miles away – but the ambulance was not equipped with blood transfusion equipment.

A further delay of 20 minutes, when the ambulance crew could not locate the accident and emergency unit, led to Fiona losing a substantial amount of blood and despite being immediately operated on and given six units of blood on her arrival at Cork University Hospital, the treatment came too late to save her baby, who was delivered stillborn by Caesarean section.

Fiona and her husband – Stephen Cotter – made a claim for stillborn child compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE) alleging that, had she received a transfusion en route to Cork University Hospital, Fiona would have suffered a less severe level of hypovolaemic shock, which would have provided sufficient oxygen to her child to ensure its survival.

The couple´s claim included compensation for the post-traumatic stress, severe bereavement disorder and adjustment disorder that Fiona had suffered, and also for the cost of renting a home in Cork during a later pregnancy so that Fiona would be closer to the hospital. After an investigation into the stillborn child claim for compensation, the HSE admitted liability and issued and apologised to Fiona and Stephen.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said that the HSE had demonstrated “extraordinary ineptitude” and that it was “scarcely credible” in this day and age an ambulance would be arranged for a patient suffering from internal bleed without someone thinking of having the necessary cross-matched blood for transfusion.

Hearing that the claim for stillborn child compensation was before him for the assessment of damages only, Mr Justice Sean Ryan told Fiona that he could only determine compensation for a stillborn child on the basis of legal principles and not based on his sense of indignation, and awarded the couple €170,000 in stillborn child compensation.


Secretary Awarded Compensation for a Negligent Hysterectomy

A woman, who suffered both physical and emotional injuries due to the negligence of a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, has been awarded €438,000 in compensation for a negligent hysterectomy following a court hearing.

Cynthia Kinsella (52) from Terenure, Dublin, underwent the surgical procedure at Mount Carmel Hospital in April 2008 after developing menorrhagia – a condition which causes heavy menstrual bleeding. Three weeks after her operation she started leaking from the bladder – a condition known as medically as a fistula – which lead to significant distress and loss of amenity.

The surgeon who oversaw the operation – consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, Dr. Gerry Rafferty – also assisted at a second operation in July in an attempt to resolve the problem; where it was discovered that the condition may have been attributable to a misplaced suture in the bladder. After discovering that the probable cause of her injury was her surgeon´s negligence, Cynthia sought legal advice and subsequently made a claim for negligent hysterectomy compensation.

Dr Rafferty denied his liability for Cynthia´s injuries – claiming that her condition was due to a rare complication of the hysterectomy procedure – however, at Dublin´s High Court, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill rejected the surgeon´s argument and found in favour of Cynthia negligent hysterectomy claim for compensation.

In assessing how much Cynthia should receive in compensation for a negligent hysterectomy, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O´Neill heard that in November 2008 Cynthia had been made redundant from her senior secretarial position with an engineering firm. Due to a combination of her fistula condition and the severe anxiety disorder she developed as a result of her surgeon´s negligence, Cynthia was unable to find employment elsewhere and has not worked since.

The judge said that he was satisfied that Cynthia´s capacity for work had been affected by her condition and that there was little prospect of her finding employment in the future because of it. Awarding Cynthia €200,000 for past and future pain and suffering, €225,000 for past and future loss of earnings and €13,184 for medical negligence special damages, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill said that had Cynthia not suffered as a result of the hysterectomy operation, he believed she would have in all probability found alternative employment after her redundancy.


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Claim Nets 13,500 Euros

A Tesco’s security guard, who suffered post traumatic stress after being trapped in a lift at their Dundrum Shopping Centre Store in Dublin, has been awarded 13,500 Euros in a court action against the company.
Judge Joseph Matthews heard in the Circuit Civil Court how William Murphy (27) of Ashford, County Wicklow, had been one of a number of people trapped between floors in a lift for almost an hour in September 2006.
Due to the lack of oxygen, heat and humidity, Mr Murphy had been overcome with fear while awaiting rescue by the fire service, and had subsequently been off from work with a stress related illness for several weeks. Mr Murphy still experiences feelings of panic when in lifts and confined spaces.
In the action brought against Tesco Ireland Ltd and Byrne Lifts Ltd, Millennium Business Park, Dublin, the court heard that once the doors of the lift had closed, the lift dropped suddenly and then jerked to a stop – trapping the group of people inside for between 45 and 60 minutes.
Judge Matthews found in favour of the claimant, stating that he was satisfied that the lift had not been overloaded and that the problem had been caused by over-speeding. He accepted that over-heating in the hydraulic system had triggered an emergency safety cut-out, and that the accident could have been prevented with the implementation of a cooling system.


Near-Miss Toddler Awarded 10,000 Euros for Bicycle Crash

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Matthew Deery, heard in the Civil Court how two-year-old Katie Campbell, of Ratoath, County Meath, suffered years of post traumatic stress after a near miss in a toyshop. Katie, now seven, had been visiting the Smyths Toys shop in the Airside Retail Park, Swords, County Dublin, with her father, when a bicycle fell directly in her path from a shelf 14 feet above her head. Although sustaining no injuries, the court heard how subsequent to the event Katie started to suffer nightmares and showing signs of anxiety. The court was then told that Katie had been referred by her GP to a consultant child psychologist, who diagnosed her as having post traumatic stress based on her hypersensitivity to sudden, loud noises and an unwillingness to play with other children. Smyths Toys Ltd had offered the amount of 10,000 Euros as compensation, but as with all settlements for child injury, the award had to be approved in court.


Judge Approves 13,000 Euro Bungee Payment for Nervous Shock

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Matthew Deery, commented that it “must have been a terrifying experience for all concerned” as he approved a compensation payment of 13,000 Euros for nervous shock to Chloe McDonagh of Navan, County Meath.
The settlement was in respect of Chloe witnessing her father being trapped in a funfair bungee ride that went terribly wrong at Blackrock, County Dublin in 2003 when Chloe was just five years of age. As the transparent sphere was launched into the air, one of the supporting elasticated straps snapped, causing the sphere to swing wildly around and buffet Mr McDonagh and a fellow fun-seeker against the inside of their capsule.
Fearing that her father was about to die on the funfair attraction, Chloe, who was watching the event with her mother Jacqueline, became hysterical and collapsed with fright. Both parents and the little girl were treated in hospital for shock after Mr McDonagh had been rescued by emergency services, but Chloe continued to have nightmares for a further year.
The offer of compensation had been made by Manchester company Funpark Nederlands and, as with all child injury compensation settlements, had to be approved in court. Chloe, who is now twelve years of age, was represented by her mother in the action and has now fully recovered from her ordeal.


Pregnant Worker Wins 100,000 Euro for Discrimination

Denise Blatt has won her discrimination case against the Comfort Inn Parnell Square hotel owned by  Palmece Ltd where she was a general manager prior to being selected for redundancy. It was alleged in court that the Ms Blatt was treated less favourably during two pregnanacies over a period of a year and eight months and then was selected for redundancy because she was pregnant. It was claimed Blatt was awarded pay rises and bonuses prior to informing her company that she was pregnant, after which she received a formal letter pointing out flaws in her work. Ms Blatt developed high blood pressure during her pregnancy and blamed her work environment.

Palmece Ltd was not represented in court and the evidence was not contested.

Ms Blatt was awarded €50,000 in compensation for discrimination and €50,000 in compensation for victimisation.


Bride Awarded 42,000 Euro for Wedding Disruption

Joan Noone has been awarded €42,000 in damages against the Setanta House Hotel, Celbridge, County Kildare, after her reception was disrupted by a collapsed ceiling. Luckily there were no serious injuries.

Ms. Noone from Maynooth, County Kildare, was very upset by the incident and cancelled her honeymoon. She was in shock for some days after the accident and claimed she suffered post traumatic stress afterwards.

The case was heard by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, who assessed for damages as the hotel admitted liability.
The groom, Michael Noone, and five wedding guests, are also due to have compensation cases heard soon. It is not known how many of the 129 wedding guests have started compensation proceedings against the hotel.


Siblings Awarded Compensation for Psychiatric Injuries

Three siblings of a 14-year-old girl, Jennifer Hoban, who died of injuries resulting from being struck by a bus, have accepted an undisclosed settlement from Dublin Bus.

Jennifer Hoban was struck by a bus while crossing Killinarden Way in Tallaght on November 5th, 1997 and died shortly afterward from her injuries.   Her two brothers and sister, who are now adults, suffered prolonged grief following the accident.   A case was taken against Dublin Bus through the children’s father, Thomas Hoban, for compensation damages for psychiatric injury.

Dublin Bus made the settlement without admitting liability.


Dublin Bus Pays 25,000 Euro Compensation to Passenger Injured by Needle Left on Bus Seat

Garreth Quinn of Clondalkin, County Dublin, has been awarded €25,000 in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday for a needle injury sustained on a bus seat. The incident happened in February 2005 when Quinn sat down on the 78A at the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre terminus, sustaining a needle injury to his leg from a syringe.  The bus driver immediately called an ambulance, which brought him to a hospital. Although tests on the syringe did not find any contamination, it was still deemed prudent to undergo blood tests and inoculations.  It took 3 years before it could be guaranteed that Quinn was not infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

The bus accident claim was taken against Dublin Bus.  Judge Joseph Mathews found that visual inspections by Dublin Dub staff were not sufficient and that crevices in seats on buses should be probed for needles and syringes.  The injury compensation award consisted of €15,000 for suffering to date and €10,000 for future suffering.


Postman Awarded 32,000 Euro for Injuries Caused by Dog

Clive Haevey of Slane, County Meath, has been awarded €32,000 for injuries sustained when a dog ran out in front of his motorbike, causing him to crash. Mr Heavey was knocked unconscious and sustained two fractures to his skull.  The accident happened in March 1998 outside the Grangegeeth pub in Courty Meath.
The dog was a cross between an Alsatian and a Labrador.

The lawsuit for negligence and breach of duty claimed that the dog owner, Richard McKenna, had failed to control or supervise his dog and was not in compliance with the provisions of the 1986 Control of Dogs Act.

Mr Justice Kearns of the High Court heard the case and noted that while Mr Heavey had made a good recovery he had suffered a ‘very frightening experience”.


Family Receives 564,000 Euro Compensation for Hospital Death

The family of Miriam Jackson of Navan, County Meath, has received a €564,000 High Court settlement following her death in September 2004 in Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, two weeks after being admitted with a small bowel obstruction. The case was taken by her husband, Derek Jackson, who also sued on behalf of his three children for damages for the loss of Mrs Jackson and the resulting mental distress. The lawsuit outlined over twenty claims of medical negligence and hospital negligence – mostly an unfortunate list of ignored symptoms. It was alleged that that urine analysis results were ignored – results that found an E coli infection and therefore septicemia was allowed develop and go untreated for a significant period of time. It was alleged that Mrs Jackson complained of abdominal pain and was feverish. It was claimed that her rising temperature was ignored by the surgical team. It was alleged that a medical consultation requested by the surgical registrar did not take place, despite multiple symptoms, including a temperature of 38.2 degrees, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and light-headednes.
The hospital admitted liability in the case, so the High Court case under Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was only to determine the amount of compensation.


Antidepressants Can Cause Injuries to Babies

A truely tragic story in the Sunday Independent today highlights the dangers posed to pregnant women by antidepressants. Lisa McGillin reached a settlement of €500,000 with two doctors involved in her care during pregnancy – although there was no admission of liabilty or guilt in the case.  McGillin was given medication for her bipolar condition, without any warning about the dangers of taking antidepressants while pregnant.  In fact, McGillin claimed that she was also advised that Epilim (a brand of sodium valproate) was safe during pregnancy provided  she also took folic acid in adequate amounts.


Driver Awarded 25,000 Euro for Workplace Stress

In a rare example of a workplace injury claim not involving an actual physical injuries, a Securicor driver has been awarded €25,000 in damages for robbery of his van that included the “Tiger” kidnapping of a colleague’s wife. The security van driver, James Eakins, had sued Securicor Security Services Limited, his former employer, for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.  While not personally threatened, Eakins claimed that he was stressed by an incident when he handed over over €1 million to a work colleague whose wife had been taken hostage.  The 2007 incident happened while delivering cash to an ATM at a service station in County Carlow.   The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns,  ruled James Eakins was entitled to compensation.


Large Increase in Garda Workplace Stress Claims

Gardaí have a particularly dangerous job, and injuries at work are always going to occur.  There has been a significant increase in claims over the last 5 years. Some 430 claims have been settled in the past two years and more than 800 claims are outstanding. The total cost of the awards and legal costs was almost €30 million over the past two years. The numbers appear to indicate that about 5% of the members of the Garda Síochána are claiming compensation for work-related injuries every year.

Garda injury compensation claims are not handled by Injuries Board Ireland. The Garda Compensation Act specifies that all Garda injury claims must be handled by the High Court. There has been a significant increase in compensation for the stress caused by exposure to people that are possibly infected with diseases like hepatitis or HIV.  Some examples include:

  • A garda was awarded €25,000 in compensation for stress after an encounter with a HIV-positive drug addict.
  • A garda was awarded €30,000 after an injury became infected and he was afraid he might contract a disease.
  • A garda was awarded €8,000 for physical and psychological suffering after being bitten during the arrest of a drug user.

Gardaí are exposed to other forms of workplace stress that other workers rarely experience.  For example, a garda who had a gun pointed at her and hid under a dashboard was awarded €30,000.  The gun was an imitation firearm, although there was no way for the garda to know that at the time.


Shock and Trauma Settlement of 75,000 Euro for Witnessing Dog Attack

Two young children who witnessed a savage dog attack on their mother, Mrs. Bernadette O’Leary, are to receive €75,000 between them for trauma and shock as part of the overal settlement.   Mrs. O’Leary was staying in a relative’s house in Waterfall, Co Cork. Another relative was responsible for looking after three collie dogs in the back garden.

It was alleged that Mrs. O’Leary was attacked by the three dogs in the back garden, although the house owners claimed that O’Leary had been told to not use the back garden and was therefore tresspassing at the time.  It was claimed that the attack resulted in lip and arm injuries that were witnessed by two young children.  One of the children kept a part of Mrs. O’Leary’s lip on ice in the hope that it could be stitched back on.  The children were not injured in the incident but are to receive €75,000 between them for the trauma and shock of seeing their mother attacked.

There was no admission of liability with the settlement.