Unprotected Chemical Exposure Claims against the Defence Forces

New unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces, made by a former Baldonnel-based air corps mechanic, have been published in the Journal.

Working conditions at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, have been the subject of investigation since unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces were made in 2015 and 2016 by former air corps personnel, and as a result of a HSA inspection in October last year.

The current investigation is looking into claims that servicemen were exposed to high levels of dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks. The new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces are potentially more serious.

According to the Journal, a “whistle-blower” has alleged air corps servicemen were not protected against exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals at Baldonnel, and as a result at least twenty former servicemen have died due to neurological and cancer-related illnesses.

The former air corps mechanic also believes that the partners of personnel based at the aerodrome have suffered fertility issues, and that their children have been born with birth defects or development issues. Five children have allegedly died due to their parents´ exposure to toxic chemicals and, the “whistle-blower” claims, many more are living with life-changing illnesses.

The Journal reports the representative association for air corps personnel – PDFORRA – has been attempting to get attitudes towards health and safety changed for many years. The association´s general secretary Gerry Rooney told the Journal: “There’s a tendency in military organisations to focus on carrying out the operation at all costs. It´s fairly clear there was a problem with chemicals and their use.”

Attempts to get comments from the Defence Forces and Department of Defence about the new unprotected chemical exposure claims against the Defence Forces were unsuccessful, but Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh was heavily critical of junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe. He told the Journal that previous chemical exposure claims had fallen on deaf ears, despite Minister Kehoe stating the health and wellbeing of members of the Defence Forces are a priority for him.


Claims for Birth Defects due to taking Epilim

Claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant have been made in France on behalf of up to 4,100 children with foetal valproate syndrome.

Epilim is the trade name of an anti-epilepsy drug that uses the active ingredient sodium valproate to control electrical activity in the brain. Introduced in France in 1967, Epilim was passed for use in Ireland in 1983, and is now also often prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and chronic pain.

At the time it was introduced into Ireland, claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant were being investigated in France. It was alleged that the sodium valproate entered the bloodstream as valproic acid, which caused foetal congenital and development issues.

The evidence of birth defects due to taking Epilim was considered inconclusive, and the drug continued to be prescribed to pregnant mothers. It was only in 2006 that the manufacturers of the drug – Sanofi – warned that sodium valproate may have adverse effects and advised the medical profession to advise pregnant mothers of the potential risks.

Research conducted several years later by France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – found the majority of doctors and pharmacists were unaware of the risks associated with Epilim. The research prompted the inspectorate to conduct a small scale study in the Rhone-Alpes region last year, where a much higher than expected rate of birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant was discovered.

France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the issue and researched the health of 8,701 children born between 2007 and 2014 whose mothers were known to have taken Epilim during their pregnancies. ANSM identified up to 4,100 children suffering from foetal valproate syndrome and discovered hundreds of Epilim-related stillbirths.

ANSM´s study has resulted in the families of those affected by the adverse effects of sodium valproate to form a class action in order to jointly make claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim. The families claim that Sanofi did not do enough to adequately inform the medical profession of the risks associate with the drug. It also claims the drug manufacturer failed to put adequate warning on its packaging.

In Ireland, the Disability Federation has called on the government to conduct an audit of children diagnose with foetal valproate syndrome. The organisation claims the scale of the problem in Ireland should be identified in order that adequate support measures are provided for families. If a member of your family has been affected by foetal valproate syndrome, and you would like to know more about claims for birth defects due to taking Epilim while pregnant, you should speak with a solicitor.


Company Fined for Fatal Breach of Health and Safety Laws

A Dublin company has been fined €200,000 for a fatal breach of health and safety laws that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old warehouse supervisor.

On 28th November 2015, Robert Ceremuga – a warehouse supervisor at VF Coldstores Ltd – was killed instantly when racking supporting 36 tonnes of foodstuff collapsed on top of him. An engineer’s report following the accident concluded that the racking had collapsed due to the accidental impact of a forklift. It was found that the employee operating the forklift had been employed by VF Coldstores of Finglas, Dublin, just three weeks earlier and did not have the appropriate license to operate the vehicle.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) for a fatal breach of health and safety laws, and last month a representative of VF Coldstores Ltd pleaded guilty to the charges at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. The court also heard a victim impact statement read by Robert´s widow – Maria – following which Judge Melanie Greally adjourned the hearing in order to “conduct a scientific approach” to ascertaining the fine.

The hearing was reconvened yesterday, when Judge Greally imposed a fine of €200,000 on VF Coldstores Ltd for a fatal breach of health and safety laws. Speaking after the successful prosecution, the Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA – Brian Higgisson – said: “It is important that employers adequately manage and conduct work activities, in particular carrying out risk assessments before any major works, such as alterations to racking. These assessments should ensure that everyone has the necessary training, knowledge and experience to complete the work in a safe manner.”


High Court Approves Compensation Settlement for a Work Accident Claim

The High Court has approved a compensation settlement for a work accident claim made by the widow of a man killed while working at Connacht Sportsground.

On 30th April 2008, Declan Byrne (31) was killed when a 1.4 tonne steel beam fell on him while he was trying to realign it during the construction of a new gym at the Connacht Sportsground in Galway. An investigation into Declan´s death resulted in charges being brought against the company for whom he worked – CDM Steel Ltd – under the 2005 Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

The company was acquitted on the charges in November 2013, after the Galway Circuit Criminal Court heard that it had been Declan´s decision to use scaffolding and a bottle jack – rather than lift the beam with a crane – because the blockwork of the building was so far advanced. However, the judge in the case criticised the lack of supervision and an “appalling lack of communication” at the site.

Following the acquittal of her husband´s former employer, Dolores Byrne from Ballyhaunis in County Mayo made a work accident claim against CDM Steel Ltd alleging that the company´s negligence was responsible for Declan´s death. She also sued Portant Developments Ltd – the main contractor for the development of the site, the Connacht Branch of the Rugby Football Union and the Irish Rugby Football Union – the owners of the Connacht Sportsground.

All four parties denied their role in Declan´s death, and alleged that he failed to have regard for his own safety by attempting to realign the steel beam without the appropriate lifting equipment. However, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that a compensation settlement for the work accident claim had been agreed amounting to €500,000.

Judge Cross approved the compensation settlement for a work accident claim, expressing his sympathies to Dolores and her two children for their tragic and irreplaceable loss. He told the family that, although the compensation settlement for a work accident claim was a good one that he was happy to approve, “nothing can replace what you have lost”.


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.


Inquest finds Man Died Due to Asbestos Related Cancer

An inquest has found that a sixty-five year old man died due to asbestos related cancer after being exposed to the deadly fibres when he was a teenager.

Charlie Glass from Ballinteer, Dublin, passed away at St Vincent´s Hospital in September 2013 having been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer after a workplace accident in 2009.

Charlie had hurt his ribs in a fall at work, and had attended a VHI Swiftcare Clinic for treatment. X-rays revealed more fluid on his lungs than would normally be associated with a fit, working man; and, after the fluid had been drained, a CT scan detected the cancer.

Considered to be a candidate for radical intervention, Charlie underwent chemotherapy and surgery in London. He returned to Ireland and enjoyed several years of good health until the cancer returned and his health deteriorated.

It was while Charlie was discussing his diagnosis with his doctors that the link with asbestos came to light. At the age of 14, Charlie was cutting asbestos sheets for fire doors for Brook Thomas Building Suppliers. As the risks of asbestos were not so widely known in the 1960s, no protective clothing was provided and the workforce often ate their lunches in the vicinity of where the asbestos had been cut.

At the inquest into Charlie´s death, the Dublin Coroner – Dr Brian Farrell – was told that when Charlie was first diagnosed with asbestos related cancer, he had only been given eleven months to live, but managed to survive for more than four years. Dr Farrell also heard that both of Charlie´s siblings died due to asbestos related cancer, although in unconnected incidents.

Evidence presented from the autopsy on Charlie´s body revealed that “numerous asbestos bodies were identified in the lungs” confirming the diagnosis of disseminated mesothelioma. Dr Farrell returned the verdict that Charlie had died due to asbestos related cancer, commenting that it was very unfortunate that all three siblings had died from such a rare disease.


Family Awarded Compensation for Death of Son in Car Accident

A devastated family has been awarded €35,000 compensation for the death of their son in a car accident after a hearing at Circuit Civil Court in Dublin.

Ciaran Treacy was a passenger in his mother´s car when, on April 17, the car was involved in a head-on collision with a vehicle being dangerously driven by Finbar O´Rourke along the Portarlington to Portlaoise Road at Ballymorris.

Ciaran (aged 4) was killed in the accident, while both his mother and brother were seriously injured. Ciaran´s mother – Gillian – is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of the accident and his brother – Sean (aged 8) – is still to make a full recovery.

The negligent driver – Finbar O´Rourke – was arrested at the scene of the accident and charged with dangerous driving causing death. His case is to be heard on December 11th at the Portlaoise District Court.

Ciaran´s father – Ronan Treacy, of Portarlington, County Laois – made a claim for compensation for the death of his son in a car accident under the Civil Liability Act 1961 to account for the mental distress he and his wife had suffered and the loss of their son.

The claim was not contested and, at the Civil Circuit Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told that an offer of compensation for the death of a son in a car crash had been made by O´Rourke´s insurance company and the offer had been accepted.

The judge heard that the settlement consisted of €10,000 each for the parents Ronan and Gillian Treacy; €5,000 each to Ciaran’s brother, Sean, and two-year-old sister Caoimhe; €1,250 each to Ciaran’s maternal grandparents, Noel and Marie Ryan; and €1,250 each to his paternal grandparents, Patrick and Mary Treacy.

Judge Groarke approved the settlement, awarding Ronan Treacy a further €8,000 towards the funeral costs. The judge also expressed the court’s deep sympathy to the Treacy family in their tragic loss.


Family Receive Compensation for Death due to Mesothelioma

The family of a man who died after being exposed to asbestos in the workplace is to receive a six-figure settlement of compensation for death due to mesothelioma.

Peter McCormack from Whickham, Tyne and Wear, died in December 2013 after an eighteen-month illness with mesothelioma – a cancer in the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

Prior to his death, seventy-three year old Peter had instructed solicitors to see if more could have been done to protect him from the health risks associated with asbestos during his employment at EON UK (1957 – 1962) and OSG Ship Management (1965 – 1997).

Peter claimed that during his employment with EON UK, he worked alongside laggers who mixed and applied asbestos lagging to new pipes and fittings, and while employed at OSG Ship Management (formerly known as W A Souter Ltd) he was again exposed to asbestos dust working as an onboard engineer.

Solicitors working on Peter´s behalf discovered that his role at OSG Ship Management had included repairing pipes and other metalwork lagged with asbestos, and that asbestos dust was prevalent on internal surfaces of the ships Peter worked on. When the dust was disturbed, it was released into the air and inhaled.

After Peter died, the claim for compensation for death due to mesothelioma was taken over by his daughter Elke (41) on behalf of herself and Peter´s other daughter, Natalie. Elke continued to work with the solicitors that Peter had engaged until a settlement of the claim was negotiated. The two daughters will now share an undisclosed six-figure settlement of compensation for death due to mesothelioma.

After the settlement was agreed, Elke commented “My dad was always an extremely active man, spending his time mountaineering, walking and cycling, but after his diagnosis his health deteriorated rapidly and was unable to do the things he enjoyed so much. The diagnosis also caused him severe distress and anxiety for his future”.


IHCA Warns of Hospital Mortality Rate Increase

Dr Gerard Crotty has warned of an impending increase in the hospital mortality rate during a speech to delegates at the Irish Hospital Consultants Association annual conference.

Dr Crotty – president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) – commented during his keynote speech in Cork that patients are almost certainly dying unnecessarily while waiting for a hospital bed, and he referred his audience to international studies which show a 30 percent increase in the hospital mortality rate when patients are left on trolleys after the decision has been made to admit them.

Blaming an under-funding for creating the problem, Dr Crotty said that the health service was showing the strain after years of “easy cost-saving measures” and that a significant fall in day case patients was attributable to the inadequate stock of beds available to cater for the increased number of emergency cases. “I fear for what will happen as we enter the winter” the Doctor said, noting an increase of patients waiting in hospital emergency departments during one of the best summers for years.

Dr Crotty referred to the health service in Ireland as being in “intensive care” and he called upon the Government to significantly increase funding for frontline health services to avert a patient safety crisis. He said that patients deserve a better health service than currently exists and that a realistic budget is required to deliver safe, high quality care to patients without unacceptable delays which could ultimately result in their death.

In the same speech, Dr Crotty welcomed the acknowledgement by Health Minister Leo Varadkar that the 30 percent pay decrease for new entrant consultants had been a mistake and that it had undoubtedly worsened the crisis in the health service by reducing the attractiveness of senior medical positions. The President of the IHCA called for a complete reversal of the 30 percent pay cut to prevent newly graduating doctors from seeking positions overseas.

Also at the conference, Martin Varley – the Secretary General of the IHCA – said that a number of consultants who had signed work contracts in 2008 with the promise of increased salaries were taking legal action due to their pay increases failing to materialise. Under the agreements, consultants were due pay rises from €175,000 to €240,000 in 2009, but the pay rises were withheld when the economic crisis developed and the Department of Health reallocated the finance for other priorities.


Compensation for Heart Diseases from Asbestos Exposure

A recent study has revealed a connection between asbestos exposure, heart disease and strokes – potentially making it possible to claim compensation for heart diseases from asbestos exposure.

The study was conducted by the Health & Safety Laboratory (HSL) – a branch of the UK´s Health and Safety Executive – and published in the British Medical Journal. It concludes that employees exposed to asbestos are at greater risk of heart disease and strokes than the general population – with women more likely to be affected than men.

HSL analysed 15,557 deaths among 98,912 workers who had taken part in regular voluntary health monitoring and participated in the Asbestos Workers Survey, and compared the number of deaths from strokes and heart attacks among these workers against the number that would be expected to occur in the general population.

The Discrepancy between Male and Female Deaths

The discrepancy between male and female deaths – where exposure to asbestos had contributed towards a fatal heart disease or stroke – was significant.  Male asbestos workers (most commonly engaged in asbestos removal) were 39 percent more likely to die of heart disease and 63 percent more likely to die of a stroke; while women (most commonly employed in the manufacturing industry) were 89 percent more likely to die of heart disease and 100 percent more likely to die of a stroke after being exposed to asbestos.

There was evidence to suggest that the longer the duration of exposure to asbestos, the greater the likelihood of dying from heart disease or a stroke, and the report concluded that cerebrovascular and ischaemis heart disease mortality rates were significantly higher when there had been occupational exposure to asbestos.

Claiming Compensation for Heart Diseases from Asbestos Exposure

The process for claiming compensation for heart diseases from asbestos exposure would be exactly the same as claiming compensation for exposure to asbestos when a victim has been diagnosed with asbestosis or mesothelioma cancer. Provided it can be proven that the person who was suffering from heart disease or who had experienced a stroke was exposed to asbestos in the course of their work – or due to other environmental factors – it should be possible to claim compensation for heart diseases from asbestos exposure.

This new research will enable many victims of asbestos-related injuries to recover compensation and will allow them to seek the best medical attention to help them lead the fullest possible live. In tragic cases where the person exposed to asbestos has died, families are allowed to claim compensation for heart diseases from asbestos exposure on the victim´s behalf; although the successful conclusion of the claim may depend on being able to locate witnesses who can confirm the presence of asbestos in the workplace.

In all circumstances in which an illness or the death of a loved one is attributable to the exposure to asbestos, it is advisable to discuss eligibility for claiming compensation for heart diseases from asbestos exposure with a solicitor at the earliest practical opportunity.


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.


Family Receive Compensation for Failure to Diagnose Cancer

The family of a woman who died from an undiagnosed tumour in her abdomen is to receive €62,500 compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer.

Sharon McEneaney (31) from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan died in April 2009 from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen, eighteen months after she had first attended the emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda complaining of abdominal pain.

The cancerous tumour went undiagnosed for a further nine months, and was only identified after Sharon was given a biopsy due to the intervention of former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon in June 2008. By then the tumour had developed to such as size that it was too late for any treatment, and Sharon died the following April.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation in Sharon´s death and made 38 recommendations to prevent future failures to diagnose cancer, while – in January 2012 – Dr Etop Samson Akpan was found guilty of a poor professional performance by the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee.

At the High Court in Dublin, Margaret Swords – the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – read out an apology to the McEneaney family, admitting that the hospital had failed Sharon, but also stating that the hospital was making progress in making the changes required. The court heard that, five years after Sharon´s death, six of the HSE´s recommendations are still to be implemented.

The court also heard that a settlement of compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer had been agreed between the hospital and Sharon´s family, with €10,000 going towards Sharon´s funeral and other expenses connected with her death, €27,100 compensation for the failure to diagnose cancer going to Sharon´s mother Jane, and the remainder to be shared by Sharon´s four siblings.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine closed the hearing after commending Sharon´s family for their courage and tenacity, and commented “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.


Family Hears Apology for Hospital Death due to Dehydration

A family attending a High Court hearing have heard a statement read to them apologising for their mother´s hospital death due to dehydration.

The family of Eileen Brady were in court to hear the apology as closure to their compensation claim for a hospital death due to dehydration following the tragic loss of their mother at the Cavan General Hospital in January 2010.

Eileen (65) had been referred to the Cavan General Hospital by her GP after she had been diagnosed with a poor fluid intake which was manifesting in mouth ulcers. Eileen was admitted to the hospital on 5th January, but died the following day due to multiple organ failure.

An investigation into her death revealed that the dehydration treatment Eileen had been admitted for had been ineffective, as her veins had collapsed due to the chemotherapy treatment she was undergoing in a Dublin hospital to treat her stomach cancer.

The investigation also revealed that Eileen´s hospital death due to dehydration could have been prevented if her medical charts had been examined more closely, if senior physicians had been consulted as Eileen´s condition deteriorated or if the Cavan General Hospital had liaised with the Dublin hospital at which Eileen was receiving her treatment for cancer.

Eileen´s son – Martin Brady from Crosskeys in County Cavan – sued the Cavan General Hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE) on behalf of the family, claiming that Eileen´s avoidable hospital death due to dehydration had caused the family mental distress. The HSE admitted liability and a compensation settlement was agreed out of court, subject to the family receiving a public apology.

At the High Court, the HSE´s legal representative read out a statement in which the hospital and the HSE apologised for the negligent care which resulted in Eileen´s death, and the subsequent grief and stress that had been suffered by her family and friends.

Responding on behalf of the family, Aidan Brady said he hoped that both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in the care of his mother “and that no other family would have to go through the trauma and distress that we have suffered”.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine closed the hearing after extending her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family.


Perinatal Death Due to Negligence Exposed by RTE Program

An RTE Prime Time program has exposed four cases of perinatal death due to negligence at the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise.

The program “Fatal Failures” featured the tale of Roisin and Mark Molloy from Tullamore in County Offaly, whose son Mark died soon after his delivery January 24th 2012. The couple fought a four-month battle to have an investigation launched into their son´s death – during which time they were fed misinformation into the circumstances of his delivery.

When an independent clinical review was subsequently concluded, it reported that “failures in the standard of care provided were casually linked to the foetal hypoxia damage that occurred [and the death of baby Mark]” – effectively that Mark had suffered an avoidable perinatal death due to negligence.

The Midland Regional Hospital issued the Molloy´s with an apology and told the couple that neonatal deaths at the hospital were extremely rare. However, by chance, Roisin Molloy heard a radio interview in which a Shauna Keyes was retelling the story of how she had lost her child at the Midland General Hospital in similar circumstances, and the two women got in touch with each other.

However, as the RTE Investigation Unit discovered, there were at least two further incidents of perinatal death due to negligence, which had been investigated internally at the hospital, but the grieving parents never been advised of the outcome. The RTE investigators also found that none of the measures that had been recommended following Mark Molloy´s death had been implemented.

Appearing in the program, Dr Philip Crowley – the National Director of Quality & Patient Safety at the Health Service Executive (HSE) – said that the delays in investigating Mark Molloy´s death and implementing procedures that would avoid perinatal death due to negligence were “lamentable” and he apologised on behalf of the HSE for the trauma the families had been through.

The Minister for Health – Dr James Reilly – also commented on the findings of the RTE investigators. Speaking on the Today radio program he said he had asked the Chief Medical Officer to conduct a further investigation into the failings of care at the hospital and described the four cases of perinatal death due to negligence as “utterly unacceptable”.


Settlement of Claim for Fatal Hospital Errors Approved at Court

A family from Dromahair in County Sligo have heard the settlement of their claim for fatal hospital errors approved in the High Court following the death of Dhara Kivlehan three years ago from avoidable multiple organ failure.

On 20th September 2010, Dhara (29) was admitted to Sligo General Hospital for the delivery of her first child after having experienced painless contractions for two days. Dhara was two weeks passed her due date and, on examination, was exhibiting signs of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure and fluid retention around her ankles (also known as oedema).

Blood taken from Dhara showed that she had abnormal kidney and liver function (a further symptom of pre-eclampsia), but no action was taken due the results of the blood tests not being communicated to Dhara´s doctors for twelve hours. The morning following her admission, Dhara gave birth to her son -Dior – by Caesarean Section and was transferred to a side room off of the main Maternity Ward.

While Dhara was in the side room, her condition started to deteriorate, but it was not until 4.45pm the following day that she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit at Sligo General Hospital. At 11.00pm that evening, Dhara´s condition became critical and she was air-lifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to receive specialist treatment.

Dhara died four days later due to multiple organ failure secondary to HELLP syndrome – a variant of pre-eclampsia – but, as yet, both the Belfast coroner and the Sligo coroner have declined requests to conduct a post-mortem.

Dhara´s husband – Michael – believing that the symptoms of haemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and a low latelet count were not identified and treated in time to prevent his wife´s death, made a compensation claim for fatal hospital errors against the Health Service Executive (HSE) – alleging that the Sligo general Hospital had breached its duty of care and that the care provided for Dhara once she had given birth to Dior was negligent.

The HSE denied that there had been a failure in the duty of care by Sligo General Hospital in the treatment that Dhara had received, but Michael persevered with his claim, and a court hearing was scheduled to determine whether the HSE had a case to answer.

Shortly before the claim for fatal hospital errors was due to be presented in court, the HSE acknowledged that there had been shortcomings in the care provided for Dhara both before and after the birth of her son, and an €800,000 settlement of compensation for fatal hospital errors was negotiated.

At the High Court in Dublin, the family heard a statement read out to them in which the HSE apologised unreservedly for the errors that had been made which led to Dhara´s death and offered their condolences to Michael and Dior.

Following the apology, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for fatal hospital errors, and also used the opportunity to criticise the HSE for “holding out until almost the bitter end” before admitting liability, and consequently causing the Kivlehan family unnecessary distress.


HSA Warns About Slips and Falls in the Workplace

The Health and Safety Authority has issued a warning about slips and falls in the workplace after more than €22 million was awarded last year in workplace slip and fall injury compensation.

The warning came in a statement made to the press by Martin O´Halloran – Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – in response to figures released by the Injuries Board that showed there were 807 assessments of injury compensation for injuries at work accepted in 2012 amounting to €22 million (1).

More than one third of the accepted assessments of injury compensation for workplace accidents were attributable to avoidable slips and falls in the workplace, and Mr O´Halloran urged employers to take better precautions against such preventable injuries.

He referred to research in which it was indicated that employees take less care than they should at work because of the employer´s responsibility to prevent slips and trips, and because of bad practices developed at home – especially when working at height.

Mr O´Halloran revealed that a quarter of all workplaces surveyed by HSA inspectors last year had not conducted a risk assessment to assess the dangers of slips and falls in the workplace, and that two of the highest accepted assessments of compensation for slips and falls in the workplaces related to preventable fatal accidents.

Other statistics related to compensation claims for accidents at work included:

  • The average award for a workplace accident was €27,286. The average award for men was slightly higher at €27,657, while women received an average award of €26,456.
  • Men are twice as likely as women to sustain a workplace injury with men accounting for 69 percent and women 31 percent of the accepted assessments for slips and falls in the workplace.
  • The majority of awards were to workers in the 25 to 34 age group (32.2%) while over 1 in 5 (22.6%) were in the 35 to 44 age bracket. The vast majority of awards (82.6%) were under €38,000.
  • For the second consecutive year, Thursday was the most common day for workplace accidents while the least number of accidents occurred on Sunday. July saw the highest number of accidents in 2012.
  • Slips, trips and falls were the most common accident type accounting for one third (33.6%) of all awards for workplace accidents.

Mr O’Halloran concluded by saying “Effective management of workplace safety and health not only protects workers from injury and ill-health, but also has the potential to save businesses thousands of euro. Proper management of workplace safety and health contributes to long-term commercial success and profitability. I would urge all business owners and directors to take some time this week to consider the safety systems they have in place and make sure not to leave anything to chance”.

(1) It should be noted that, in 2012, less than one-third of assessments made by the Injuries Board were accepted – indicating that the number of compensation claims for slips and falls in the workplace would likely be approaching 2,500.


Family Claim for Hospital Death due to Lack of Care

An Australian family has indicated they will be making a claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care following a hearing into the fatal accident in which a 26 year-old drowned while taking a bath.

The report followed the death of Amy Hauserman in March 2008, who had voluntarily been admitted to the Frankston Hospital in Melbourne after doctors feared she was showing signs of schizophrenia which had resulted in Amy previously suffering with anorexia.

Two days after her admission, Amy died from “a hypoxic brain injury in a setting of immersion” which Coroner Peter White attributed to either Amy lapsing into an unconscious state during the bath or slipping and falling as she tried to get out of it.

The Coroner noted that no risk assessment had been conducted as to whether it was safe for her to take a bath unsupervised and that Amy´s consultant had not been consulted beforehand. He also said at the inquest hearing that the absence of supervision was a primary feature of Amy´s death as it would have been avoided had a nurse been present in the bathroom.

One of the nurses involved in Amy´s care gave evidence at the inquest that she was unaware there was a protocol for patients taking baths, but her testimony was contradicted by the Hospital´s Head of Nursing who said that all psychiatric ward patients should only be allowed to take a bath unsupervised after a risk assessment had been conducted.

After the Coroner´s verdict had been delivered, Amy´s father made a statement in which he confirmed that the family would be making a claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care on the grounds that had staff at the Frankston Hospital “showed her the due and proper care she deserved, she would still be us now”.

The Mornington Peninsula Health Service – against who the compensation claim for a hospital death due to a lack of care has been made – failed to comment on Mr Hauserman´s allegations; however a court date in May 2014 has now been set for the claim to be heard.


Savita´s Husband seeks Compensation for Hospital Negligence

The husband of Savita Halappanavar has announced that he is seeking compensation for hospital negligence after the HSE report was release into the circumstances of her death in October last year.

Savita died at the University Hospital in Galway one week after having attended the Accident and Emergency department complaining of acute back pain. She was found to be in the process of miscarrying her 17 week foetus and was sent home.

Savita returned to the hospital later in the day as the pain had not subsided and was admitted under the care of consultant doctor Dr Katherine Astbury. Savita´s waters broke the following morning and requested a termination, but was told to “await events” as an abortion was not possible while there was still a foetal heartbeat.

Savita´s condition continued to deteriorate – during which time she was misdiagnosed by Dr Astbury as suffering from sepsis after the consultant doctor had failed to read the patient notes made the previous evening. Dr Astbury eventually consulted with a senior colleague about a termination, but a scan later revealed that Savita´s baby was already dead.

After being moved into theatre, Savita spontaneously delivered her deceased baby and was later moved into intensive care suffering from septic shock. The following morning it was discovered that Savita had developed severe septicaemia due to E.coli ESBL, due to which she became critically ill and, on Sunday October 28th, she suffered a cardiac arrest and died of multiple organ failure.

A verdict of medical misadventure was delivered at the inquest into Savita´s death, but a subsequent Health Service Executive investigation failed to identify who was to blame for the negligent treatment Savita received or acknowledge liability for her death; prompting family and friends to describe the investigation as a “whitewash”.

In order to get answers to the questions which remain after the investigation, Savita´s husband – Praveen Halappanavar –  has made a claim for compensation for hospital negligence against the University Hospital Galway and the HSE alleging that the hospital failed to treat, failed to follow up blood tests, and failed to diagnose.

The University Hospital Galway and the HSE have not yet indicated whether they will acknowledge liability before a court date is arranged to resolve the claim for hospital negligence compensation.


Sisters Receive Compensation for Injuries in a Fatal Car Accident

Two sisters have had settlements of compensation for injuries in a fatal car accident approved in court following their mother´s tragic death while the family were travelling to attend a family wedding.

Meabh and Aislinn Reid from Malahide in County Dublin were aged nine and four respectively when their mother – Marian – suffered fatal injuries in a car accident as the family were travelling to attend the wedding of Marian´s brother in Killaloe, County Clare.

The accident in June 2004 was caused by the girls´ father – Derek – driving into a stationary truck on the Nenagh bypass in County Tipperary. Marian – who was a primary school teacher – died from the injuries she sustained in the accident, while Meabh suffered soft tissue bruising and Aislinn´s leg was broken.

The two girls made a claim for injuries in a fatal car accident against their father and, at the High Court in Dublin the two settlements of compensation for injuries in a fatal car accident were approved – Meabh receiving €75,000 and Aislinn €155,000.


Family Unable to Claim for a Death in an Airplane Accident

The family of a man who died in an air crash in New Zealand have been told that the country´s law does not allow them to make a compensation claim for a death in an airplane accident.

Patrick Byrne (26) from County Wexford was killed when the Fletcher FU24 airplane he was travelling in crashed shortly after take-off on September 4th 2010. Patrick was killed along with three other tourists, the plane´s pilot and four sky-dive instructors in the accident at the Fox Glacier Airstrip in Westland.

The cause of the crash was never identified after two independent investigations resulted in contradictory theories due to much of the plane being destroyed by the fire which started as the plane crashed.

The coroner at the inquest into the nine deaths concluded that the cause of the accident may never be known, but suggested that it could have been caused by the plane being unbalanced due to unrestrained passengers moving about in the back of the airplane.

Families of the victims have written to New Zealand´s Prime Minister – John Key – asking that stronger safety enforcement is introduced as, at the minute, there is no legislation in New Zealand that airplane passengers should wear seatbelts during take-off.

The families have also called on the Prime Minister to address the country´s laws which do not allow them to make a compensation claim for a death in an airplane accident. New Zealand law does not allow companies to be taken to court for negligence and compensation is decided by the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) – a department of the Government responsible for compensating personal injuries to residents and visitors to New Zealand.

The compensation for a death in an airplane accident awarded to the families of the victims by the ACC amounted to approximately €3,200 – not even enough to repatriate the bodies of the airplane disaster victims home to their loved ones.


Compensation for a Casualty Department Misdiagnosis Approved

A grieving family have had a settlement of compensation for a casualty department misdiagnosis approved after hearing a statement read out in court apologising for the healthcare that resulted in death of their son.   

The parents of eight-year-old Richard de Souza made their claim for compensation for a casualty department misdiagnosis following the events of February 2011, when Ralmon and Flavia de Souza attended the A&E department of the Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise with their son who was suffering from chicken pox.

The two parents were concerned about a large swelling under Richard´s left arm that was hot to touch and were told by a doctor at the hospital that Richard had developed an infection. The doctor prescribed a three-day supply of antibiotics and sent the family home.

However, later that evening, Richard developed a great thirst and became delirious. The following morning he complained of feeling the need to vomit before passing out at the family home in Athy, County Kildare. An ambulance was called, but Richard was in a state of cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived and he was declared dead on arrival at the Midland Regional Hospital.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Richard´s cause of death was a streptococcal infection which led to toxic shock syndrome. She was told that a patient displaying a high temperature and high pulse and heart rate would normally be admitted to hospital straight away and that had Richard been administered intravenous antibiotics at the time it would have saved his life.

The judge also heard that Ralmon de Souza had to be hospitalised due to the severity of the nervous shock he sustained on hearing about his son´s death and, because of Ralmon´s grief, eight-month pregnant Flavia de Souza had to attend her son´s funeral alone. Both parents were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following Richard´s death.

As part of the €160,000 settlement of the de Souza´s claim for a casualty department misdiagnosis, an apology was read out in court apologising for the mistakes which led to Richard de Souza´s death. After hearing the apology, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for a casualty department misdiagnosis.


Court Approves Compensation for the Wrongful Death of a Child

The High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for the wrongful death of a child after a statement was read out in court apologising for the death of the child due to a delayed diagnosis.

Kaiden Costello was admitted to Temple Street Children´s Hospital in April 2009 when he was just six months old, as his concerned mother – Kate – had noticed her son was off his food. Kaiden was diagnosed with a failure to thrive, but two months later was re-admitted and an MRI revealed that his condition was due to a brain tumour. Kaiden underwent surgery to remove the tumour in July 2009, but he died three days later.

Kaiden´s mother made a claim for the wrongful death of a child due to a delayed diagnosis against the hospital and HSE; alleging that, had an MRI been conducted when Kaiden was first admitted to the hospital and the tumour identified sooner, her son could have received chemotherapy treatment that would have extended his life by five to ten years or undergone surgery earlier to remove the tumour.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard that liability for the failure to diagnose Kaiden had been admitted by Temple Street Children´s Hospital and a settlement of compensation for the wrongful death of a child had been agreed upon amounting to €180,000.

As part of the settlement agreement, an apology was read out by CEO of Temple Street Children´s Hospital – Mona Baker – who said that she understood that no apology or compensation arising from Kaiden´s death could negate the continuing heartache that the family must feel every day.

Judge Cross thereafter approved the settlement of compensation for the wrongful death of a child which comprised of €145,000 for Kate Costello´s nervous shock as a result of the death of her son and €35,000 relating to the wrongful death due to a delayed diagnosis.


Claim for Death after Caesarean made against HSE

A widower, who lost his wife after she had given birth to their son via a C-section procedure, has made a claim for death after Caesarean against the Health Service Executive.

Dhara Kivlehan (29) from Dromahair, County Sligo, gave birth to her son – Dior – on 21st September 2010 at Sligo General Hospital via a Caesarean section operation but, soon after the procedure, developed multiple organ failure secondary to HELLP syndrome – a variant of pre-eclampsia. Dhara was rushed to Belfast´s Royal Victoria Hospital to receive specialist treatment, but died on September 29th.

Dhara´s husband – Kevin Kivlehan (33) – asked the Belfast Coroner John Lecky for an inquest into his wife´s death, but his request was turned down. Now he has asked the Coroner for Sligo to investigate the circumstances of his wife´s death and made a claim for death after Caesarean against the Health Service Executive (HSE).

No decision has yet been made by the Sligo Coroner, but the HSE is expected to defend themselves against the claim for death after Caesarean, and the alleged breach of duty and alleged negligence claimed by Kevin Kivlehan, after the symptoms of hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and a low latelet count were allegedly not identified and treated in time to prevent his wife´s death.

A High Court decision on whether the HSE have a case to answer in respect of the claim for death after Caesarean is expected soon.


NCRI Report: Women Suffering from Mesothelioma Cancer

The incidence of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer has remained constant – despite an increasing trend in asbestos related cancer – according to a report by the National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI).

The NCRI report – “Cancer Trends – Mesothelioma” – reveals that the incidence of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer did not increase between 1994 and 2010, despite a 100 percent increase in the diagnosis of asbestos related cancer during the same period.

On average, four women each year die from mesothelioma cancer due to fibres brought home by their tradesmen husbands on clothes, and the report claims that secondary exposure to asbestos is more probable in women who are less likely to have direct work-related exposure.

The report goes on to say that 90 percent of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer are, or have been, married compared to 77 percent of all female cancer patients, and – somewhat alarmingly – that 18 percent of women suffering from mesothelioma cancer are diagnosed while under fifty years of age, compared to just 3 percent for men.

Asbestos was mostly used in industry in Ireland from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. It was banned from use in the construction and shipbuilding industries between 1194 and 1998, and a general prohibition on its use was introduced in 2004 under EU legislation.

There is a very poor prognosis for women suffering from mesothelioma cancer. Patients diagnosed between 1994 and 2009 had just a 4.5 percent chance in surviving more than five years, and overall 71 percent of patients are known to have died within one year of being diagnosed.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) warned that although asbestos is now banned, products or materials containing asbestos still exist. The Authority said that units containing asbestos which are already installed or in service can remain in place until they are safely disposed of or reach the end of their service life.


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.


Woman Dies after being Dispensed the Wrong Medicine

An inquest has heard how a Dublin woman died two days after being dispensed the wrong medicine by one of the city´s pharmacies.

Margaret Swaine (64) died due to a heart attack in July 2010 after being mistakenly dispensed Tegretol – an anti-convulsant and mood stabilising drug – instead of Trentol, a drug which had been prescribed for Margaret to assist the flow of blood through her body due to a pre-existing heart condition.

The Coroners Court heard Dr Brian Farrell testify that Margaret´s death was due to her heart condition, but the effects of the Tegretol had constituted an “additional stressor”. His testimony was supported by University College Dublin´s Professor Patrick Murray, who confirmed that the presence of Tegretol had been a contributing factor to Margaret´s heart attack and said “It is very unlikely that she would have passed away on that given day had she not taken the Tegretol.”

The court was also told the circumstances of how Margaret was dispensed the wrong medicine. Margaret´s friend – Ann Murphy – related how Margaret had returned from the Janet Dillon Pharmacy in Stoneybatter with the tablets which Ann believed were for the treatment of depression. Margaret took the Tegretol tablets three times over the course of the day and became groggy, disorientated and unsteady on her feet.

Ann visited the pharmacy and showed the box of tablets to pharmacist Janet Dillon, who was shocked that the pharmacy had dispensed the wrong medicine and who exchanged the Tegretol for the correct medicine. However, Margaret´s symptoms continued and the following morning she was discovered sitting on the side of her bed having difficulty breathing. White foam was coming from her mouth and her pulse deteriorated. An ambulance was summoned but attempts to resuscitate Margaret at the Mater Hospital failed.

In court, Janet Dillon testified that a “picking error” by a trainee assistant had been the reason why the wrong medicine was dispensed, but that she checked the medicine before it was dispensed to Margaret and her failure to spot the mistake was attributable to human error. The DPP has decided not to prosecute the pharmacy, but Margaret´s family may be entitled to claim compensation for being dispensed the wrong medicine.


Compensation for Medical Misadventure Awarded Against HSE

The family of a woman who died giving birth to her second child has been awarded 850,000 Euros in compensation for medical misadventure following a High Court hearing.

Evelyn Flanagan (38) from Castlebar in County Mayo died at Mayo General Hospital on October 19, 2007, following the birth of her daughter Niamh as a result of serious complications. An initial post-mortem suggested that Evelyn´s death was attributable to an amniotic fluid embolism; however Evelyn´s family contested the findings – claiming that the deterioration in her condition was due to a postpartum haemorrhage which could have been prevented with greater care.

Inquest proceedings in 2008 and 2009 resulted in a verdict of death by medical adventure, following which Evelyn´s husband – Padraic Flanagan – made a claim for medical misadventure compensation against the Health Service Executive and consultant obstetrician, Dr Murtada Mohamed. It was alleged in the action that Evelyn suffered a postpartum haemorrhage as a result of a rupture of her uterus which was not detected or adequately dealt with.

Mayo General Hospital initially denied that negligence had occurred but, as Mr Justice Michael Peart heard at the High Court, an acknowledgement of liability had been made during mediation prior to court proceedings. The judge awarded the family 850,000 Euros in compensation for medical misadventure to include the maximum allowable 25,395 Euros for mental distress and payments for each of Evelyn´s two children as they grow older.


UK Ruling Will Allow Claims for Asbestos Related Diseases

A UK Supreme Court ruling has made it possible for workers formerly employed in the UK construction industry to make claims for asbestos related diseases.

Victims of asbestos related diseases, and the families of workers who have died from asbestos related diseases, have been given the right to claim back-dated compensation under a landmark ruling handed down from the UK Supreme Court this week.

The court ruled that insurance liability applied at the time an employee was exposed to asbestos, rather than when the symptoms of an illness were diagnosed, and that relatives of workers who subsequently died due to a lack of protection can make claims for asbestos related diseases on insurance policies dating back to the 1940s.

Lord Clarke – one of the Supreme Court judges that delivered the verdict – said “The negligent exposure of an employee to asbestos during the [insurance] policy period has a sufficient causal link with subsequently arising mesothelioma to trigger the insurer’s obligation.”

For many workers who were employed in the UK prior to the banning of asbestos products in 2004, this ruling means that they will be able to claim compensation from their former employer´s insurance company. It also means that families who lost loved ones due to mesothelioma cancer or asbestosis can make retrospective compensation claims for asbestos related diseases.

The ruling was welcome by the union Unite, who brought the legal action on behalf of the family of one of their former members – Charles O´Farrell – who died from mesothelioma cancer in 2003. A spokesperson said that the ruling will affect many of the 2,500 people who are diagnosed with asbestos related diseases each year.

Nick Starling – director of general insurance and health at the Association of British Insurers – was also happy that the “confusion and uncertainty” about claims for asbestos related diseases had come to an end. He said: “The ABI and our members are committed to paying compensation as quickly as possible to people with mesothelioma who have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace”.


Wrongful Death Claim Admitted By Hospital

The family of a man who died in hospital due to “an unjustifiable delay” in his treatment have received an apology from the hospital in question and 500,000 Euros compensation in settlement of their wrongful death claim.

Barry Murphy (38) from Carrigaline, County Cork, was known to suffer from Crohn´s Disease – but was generally in good health – when he was admitted to the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital on the morning of 24th April 2008 complaining of abdominal pains. Barry was diagnosed with a perforated bowl but, by the time the hospital operated on him, parts of his body had already shut down due to septic shock and he died at 11.15pm the same evening.

Barry´s widow, Mary, claimed that the hospital had not cared for her husband by failing to operate on him in time, and that they were guilty of medical negligence in the avoidable and wrongful death of her husband. The South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital initially denied the claims, but in front of Mr Justice John Quirke at the Dublin High Court apologised to the family and admitted that the level of care that was provided for Barry fell short of an acceptable standard.

The apology and admission of liability for Mary Murphy´s wrongful death claim was accompanied with an offer of compensation for delayed treatment amounting to 500,000 Euros. Mr Justice John Quirke approved the settlement, once he had Mary Murphy´s agreement that it was acceptable, and extended his sympathies to Mary and her two daughters – commenting that what had happened to Barry was “unthinkable” and “tragic”.


Wrongful Death Compensation for Woman´s Loss of Inheritance

A woman, who was deprived of her inheritance due to her mother-in-law´s grief at the loss of her son, has won a High Court judgement and almost 1.6 million Euros in medical malpractice compensation against the medical practitioners responsible for his wrongful death.

Michael Davoran (47) from Ballyvaughan, County Clare, died in August 2003 from a chronic colitis condition. His widow Grace claimed in an action against the Health Service Executive (HSE), consultant gastroenterologist John Lee and consultant surgeon Oliver McAnena, that Michael continued to be treated with medication after being admitted to University College Hospital, Galway in July 2003, even though his condition was deteriorating.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at Dublin High Court heard that, because of the alleged medical malpractice of the three defendants, Michael had to undergo surgery on August 21st 2003 after it had been noticed that his condition was not improving, and then again on August 29th when an emergency laparotomy was performed due to Michael´s health getting worse despite the surgery. Michael remained in the Intensive Care Unit at University College Hospital, Galway, until two days later, when he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest due to multiple organ failure.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill at Dublin High Court heard that, as a result of Michael´s alleged wrongful death, his mother, Maura, changed her will in her grief to disinherit Grace and her four children from the family´s 623 acre Ballyalben Farm. Maura subsequently died, leaving the family farm and its income to her daughter, while Grace and her family – who had worked Ballyalben Farm all their lives – now had to rely on the income from the adjacent, much smaller Ballycahill Farm.

The defendants did not deny liability for Michael´s death, but argued that it was a disagreement between Michael´s widow and mother which was responsible for the disinheritance. Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill rejected the argument, stating that even if this was the case, it could be attributed to the mother´s distressed state of mind after her son´s death. Furthermore, he stated, he was satisfied that had it not been for his wrongful death, Michael´s dependents would have inherited the Ballyalben Farm.

Finding in favour of Grace´s claim for medical malpractice compensation, the judge awarded her 1,312,275 Euros for the loss of inheritance of Ballyalben Farm, 184,271 Euros in loss of income from farming the estate and 50,436 Euros to represent half the estimated loss that Michael´s dependants incurred from rental income – assuming that they would have moved out of the Ballycahill Farm after Maura´s death and rented it.