€1,118 Personal Injury Compensation Payout for Woman Mocked because of her Accent

An industrial tribunal has awarded compensation to a woman who was mocked because of her west Belfast accent and also harassed for being female.

The incident occurred at the Four Winds bar in Castlereagh where Caroline Curran was working as an assistant manager. She told the tribunal that she was made fun of and verbally abused due to her background and gender. She alleged that one manager told her she was “not in the Devenish now”, referring to a bar in west Belfast. On another occasion she claimed that a male colleague shouted at her: “Would you women f*** up!… you’re never done moaning.”

Ms Curran said: “I’m a strong person, but I found it extremely difficult to deal with mentally and I can only imagine if it was a younger woman or someone maybe not as strong as myself, what sort of state they would be in? I just didn’t want to let that go or allow them to treat anybody else like that.”

Ms Curran took up the position of bar assistant manager in March 2017, under manager Dermott McGinn and alongside fellow assistant manager Conor Magee. By July that year she raised a formal grievance after becoming unhappy at the treatment she was receiving and told that tribunal that Mr Magee “constantly undermines me in front of staff”.

Ms Curran also filed a complaint in relation to alterations to staff rotas, which she said he lied about causing her to feel “as if I’m going insane, sometimes he lies to me to make me think I’m wrong”. Following this she was signed off sick for two weeks and never returned. However, she attended a grievance meeting in August during which she submitted that Mr Magee made pointed jokes like: “You’re not in the Devenish now.”

Mr Magee denied all of Ms Curran’s claims, saying that “he hadn’t exactly a posh voice himself”, before going on to say that he thought he had the same accent and he was from west Belfast. As the grievance meeting did not hold up her complaints Ms Curran took the matter to the industrial tribunal.

At the tribunal legal representatives for Four Winds said the company refuted Ms Curran’s claims that her gender was an “overarching theme” in her complaints against colleagues and that she did not pursue sex discrimination in her official grievance.

When delivering the final judgment the tribunal said that Ms Curran was, more likely than not, made fun of because of her accent but this was not due to her gender. Additionally it said that her claims of being undermined by Mr Magee were not because of her gender.

On the allegations against Mr McGinn it said this was because of “bad staff management” but gender was not the cause of that. It did find that the comment, “Would you women just f*** up” was a clear occurrence of sexual harassment. The tribunal awarded Ms Curran £1,080 (€1,118) compensation.


€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.


Judge Approves Settlement of a Rear End Accident Claim

A judge at the Circuit Court has approved the settlement of a rear end accident claim made on behalf of two sisters who suffered psychological injuries.

In February 2016, the sisters were safely secured in the back seat of family car when it was involved in a rear end accident on Newcastle Road in Dublin. The girls, aged seven and four, escaped without any physical injuries but subsequently became nervous whenever large vehicles passed the car while they were travelling in it.

A medical examination revealed they were suffering from  “a mild effect on the mental health” – the older of the two girls being diagnosed with periodic worry, panic and hyperventilation while travelling in the car; and the younger sister being diagnosed with symptoms of panic whenever they approached the scene of the accident, which was close to the family home.

The girls’ mother made a rear end accident claim on behalf of her daughters. Liability was admitted by the negligent driver, and his insurance company made an offer of settlement amounting to €33,000. After seeking professional advice, the offer was accepted subject to it being approved by a judge as the rear end accident claim had been made on the behalf of two minors.

Earlier this week at the Circuit Civil Court, the circumstances of the accident and the nature of the girls´ injuries were explained to Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The judge heard that the girls had only missed one day of school because of the accident in order to seek a physical examination from the family GP, and was also told the girls´ mother was satisfied with the settlement of the rear end accident claim.

Approving the settlement, the judge ordered it should be paid into court funds until each girl reaches the age of maturity. The settlement is to equally divided, so each of the sisters will receive €16,500 on turning eighteen years of age.


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.


Flight Attendant Claims Compensation for Injuries during a Landing

An Air Lingus flight attendant has given evidence at the High Court in support of her claim for compensation for injuries during a landing at Dublin Airport.

On 19th November 2009, Cassandra Reddin from Ratoath in County Meath was a flight attendant on flight EI582 from Malaga to Dublin. As the Airbus 320 approached Dublin Airport, the plane started swaying from side-to-side and, on landing, bounced three times before coming to a halt much further along the runway than it normally would.

The rough landing caused the overhead luggage lockers to open, and luggage to fall on top of passengers; who – according to Cassandra´s testimony yesterday at the High Court – were screaming in fear. “Safety documents shot out of their pockets; duty free broke in the overhead baggage and alcohol leaked into the cabin. There was a degree of chaos and stress on board,” she told Mr Justice Michael Hanna.

Cassandra told the court that the rough landing had left her shaken up emotionally and physically. Claiming that she had suffered shock due to the incident, and had cried the whole evening when she had got home, Cassandra also alleged that she had suffered soft tissue neck and back injuries similar to whiplash – subsequent to which she sought legal advice and claimed compensation for injuries during a landing at Dublin Airport.

Aer Lingus contested Cassandra´s claim for compensation, and her allegations that the rate of descent just prior to landing was three to four times what it should have been. The airline also disputes claims that the co-pilot was negligent in failing to adequately supervise the landing on the plane. Consequently, when Cassandra applied to the Injuries Board for compensation for injuries during a landing, Aer Lingus refused to give its consent for the assessment to proceed.

The hearing at the Four Courts continues tomorrow.


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.


€1 Million Compensation for a Trip and Fall Injury Approved

A High Court judge has approved a €1 million settlement of compensation for a trip and fall injury in favour of a man who suffered a brain injury when he fell.

James O´Sullivan (32) was walking through the Muddy Hill Car Park in Mallow, County Cork, late in the evening of December 10, 2007, when he tripped over a base unit which was supporting a Heras fence at the boundary of the car park and fell onto wasteland below.

The fall – estimated to be between twelve and twenty feet – knocked James unconscious and he was taken to Mallow General Hospital before being transferred to Cork University Hospital to receive treatment for a serious head injury.

On his discharge from hospital, James sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for a trip and fall injury against Mallow Town Council, Denis Murphy, Kilpatrick Civil Engineering Ltd, and Groundworks on the basis that the unlit car park was dangerous and had exposed him to the risk of loss, injury and damage.

In his action for compensation, James – who lives and works in Mallow – alleged he suffers from forgetfulness since his accident, post-traumatic epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also claims to have suffered a profound neurological impairment as a result of the accident.

The four defendants against whom James claimed compensation for a trip and fall injury each denied their liability. They also contested the extent of James´ injuries. Consequently, the Injuries Board could not adjudicate on his application for assessment and the case proceeded to the High Court.

At the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that a €1 million offer of compensation for a trip and fall injury had been made without admission of liability. After being told that James was willing to accept the offer, the judge approved the settlement – stating that it was a good one in the circumstances as if the case had proceeded, and the defendants´ contention was accepted, there was a risk that James might not receive such a large settlement of compensation for a trip and fall injury.


Court Awards Woman Compensation for Sexual Assault

The High Court has awarded a woman, who was abused as a child by her former neighbour, €350,000 compensation for sexual assault.

Noelle Doyle was just seven years of age when her former neighbour – Sean Connolly of Kilkea in County Kildare – first used the pretext of repairing her bicycle in his garden shed to sexually assault the young girl.

The sexual abuse continued for a period of five years in the late 1970s and early 1980s until Noelle confided in her friends, who told Noelle to tell her parents. Noelle´s parents believed their daughter, but it was not until 2009 that Noelle felt able to report the offence to the gardaí.

The gardaí investigated Noelle´s claims and a prosecution was brought against Connolly in 2011. Connolly pleaded guilty to six sample charges of sexual assault at Naas Circuit Court and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Following Connolly´s conviction, Noelle made a claim for compensation for her sexual assault injuries – claiming that she had suffered from depression and post traumatic stress disorder, and had turned to alcohol when she was younger because of the abuse.

Noelle´s allegations were not disputed, and her claim for sexual assault compensation went to the High Court for an assessment of damages. The case was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross who described Noelle as an “admirable person of courage who has done society a great service by bringing this disgraceful matter to the attention of her parents, the gardaí and the courts”.

Judge Cross awarded Noelle €350,000 compensation for her sexual assault; after which Noelle admitted that it had been a “hard, long struggle” to come to terms with the abuse she had experienced, and to go through criminal and civil proceedings.

Noelle urged other victims of sexual abuse – both male and female – to come forward, and she hoped that her settlement of compensation for sexual assault would encourage them to “stand up for the little children that we once were”.


Family Settle Claim for Fatal Passenger Injuries at Hearing

A family has settled their compensation claim for fatal passenger injuries against a driver whose reckless driving caused a mother of five to die after a head-on car crash.

Rose Martin (57) of Carrickakelly in County Monaghan suffered fatal injuries in a car crash at Philipstown Corner in Killerley when her husband´s car – in which she was a front-seat passenger – was involved in a head-on collision with a car driven by Jason Kearney of Dundalk, County Louth.

Despite suffering serious injury in the accident, Rose´s only concern after the accident were for her son who was travelling in the back seat of the vehicle and who suffers from Down Syndrome, and her husband – William Martin – whose leg had been trapped under the dashboard as a result of the crash.

Rose died in hospital eleven days after the accident on New Year´s Eve 2006, while her son – David – required emergency abdominal surgery and William suffered permanent lower leg injuries – and still walks with the aid of a crutch.

William Martin made a claim for fatal passenger injuries against Kearney on behalf of the family, which included compensation for the loss of his wife, his son´s injuries and his own physical and psychological trauma.

A settlement of compensation amounting to €650,000 was negotiated but, before the claim for fatal passenger injuries could be finalised, it had to be approved by a High Court judge due to David Martin being unable to represent himself and because of the nature of the claim.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told of the circumstances of the accident, how Rose Martin had been her son´s primary carer for 28 years and the settlement that had been agreed. The judge approved the settlement in order that the claim for fatal passenger injuries could be finally resolved.


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.


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.


High Court Awards Compensation for a Failed Sterilisation

The High Court has awarded a mother €100,000 compensation for a failed sterilisation after the son she was never supposed to give birth to died after only six months of life.

Karen Hurley-Ahern (41) from Newcastlewest, County Limerick, underwent the sterilisation procedure in February 2001 after discovering from her GP that she had a rare blood-clotting disorder that would pose a risk to herself and her unborn child if ever she were to fall pregnant again.

The operation was performed by gynaecologist Dr Victor Moore at the Tralee General Hospital in County Kerry, but in April 2002 Karen fell pregnant again and, after a difficult pregnancy, gave birth to baby Samuel on 10th October 2002 – six weeks early and by emergency Caesarean section.

Samuel suffered from severe abnormalities which were unrelated to Karen´s sterilisation procedure, and remained in hospital for six months – kept alive by a series of life -support machines. In April 2003, Samuel suffered a severe heart attack and Karen and her partner – Garrett Ahern – made the painful decision to switch off the life-support machines.

After seeking legal advice, Karen and Garrett made a claim for failed sterilisation compensation against Dr Moore and the Southern Health Board (now the Health Service Executive), for the suffering and trauma the couple had been through due to the unsuccessful procedure.

Dr Moore and the HSE denied liability – claiming that the procedure had been performed correctly and the couple had been warned that there was a risk of failure. However, in the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Sean Ryan found in favour of the now-separated claimants – acknowledging that Samuel´s disability was not a consequence of the failed sterilisation procedure, but stating that Karen had suffered to a significant extent due to the defendant´s negligence.

Awarding Karen €100,000 compensation for a failed sterilisation, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said that the award of compensation was in respect of the worry she had experienced when she discovered she was pregnant, the pain of childbirth, the distress of Samuel´s condition and distress after his death. However, no award was made to Garrett as – according to Mt Justice Sean Ryan – while he had undoubtedly endured emotional anguish, there was no proof Garrett had suffered a defined psychiatric injury.


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.


Pensioner Receives Compensation for Professional Negligence

An elderly widow, who was the victim of poor workmanship when builders replaced a utility room in her home, has been awarded compensation for professional negligence at Dublin´s Circuit Civil Court.

Kathleen O’Leary (84), from Walkinstown, Dublin, had paid the building company Cranlowe Ltd 23,000 Euros for the work done at her home but, as Mr Justice Matthew Deery heard at the Circuit Civil Court, quantity surveyors compiled a list of twenty examples of professional negligence following the alterations to her 6 feet square (1.82m) utility room.

The court heard that shortly after the work had been completed, the utility room flooded due to inadequate drainage, causing a short-circuit of the electricity as the power supply had not been earthed. Further investigation revealed that the walls of the utility room had not been insulated properly, no under-floor ventilation had been installed and defects in the underground piping resulted in foul water leaking into the surrounding soil.

Giving evidence to the court, quantity surveyor Kevin O’Rafferty stated that had the work been carried out properly it should have cost Kathleen no more than 18,000 Euros, and it would now cost a further 14,912 Euros to have the faults repaired. The court also heard that when Kathleen confronted the co-owner of Cranlowe Ltd – Patrick Cowzer – with the litany of errors, he had become abusive towards her.

Mr Justice Matthew Deery was told that Kathleen´s claim for professional negligence had been granted in default of defence in November 2011, and the case was now before him for assessment of damages. The judge ruled that Cranlowe Ltd should pay Kathleen 14,912 Euros compensation for professional negligence – sufficient for Kathleen to have the necessary repairs made to her utility room – and a further 3,500 Euros to account for the emotional stress Kathleen had endured.