Saturday , December 15 2018

Claim for a Broken Ankle in a Pothole Accident Resolved Out of Court

A woman has resolved her claim for a broken ankle in a pothole accident for an undisclosed amount after the first day of a hearing at the Circuit Civil Court.

Pamela Duffy (52) from Shankill in County Dublin broke her ankle due to tripping over a pothole outside of the Tel El Kebir (TEK) United Football Club after celebrating her husband´s fiftieth birthday at the venue on 1st October 2011.

Pamela was taken to hospital, and fitted with a below-the-knee plaster cast that remained in place for the next six weeks. She also had to wear a boot brace and use crutches to assist her when she was walking.

After seeking legal advice, Pamela made a claim for a broken ankle in a pothole accident against the football club – who contested her claim on the grounds that Pamela had admitted to drinking ten pints of beer prior to her accident and had contributed to her injury due to her own negligence.

The club also argued that, as a member of the football club, Pamela was prohibited from making a claim for a broken ankle in a pothole accident as she would effectively be suing herself. Pamela disputed that she was a member – although it later emerged that her husband had once submitted an undated application on Pamela´s behalf.

At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Judge Jacqueline Linnane told the parties that there would have to be a preliminary hearing to determine whether Pamela was indeed a member of the football club, and she adjourned the hearing to give the two parties an opportunity to resolve the claim for a broken ankle in a pothole accident by negotiation.

When the two parties returned, Judge Linnane was told that Pamela´s claim for a broken ankle in a pothole accident had been resolved for an undisclosed amount and that the case could be struck off.

State Claims Agency Calls for Guidelines to Prevent Future Syntocinon Compensation Claims

The State Claims Agency has called for national guidelines to be issued for the use of a birth-inducing drug to prevent future Syntocinon compensation claims.

Syntocinon is the brand name of a synthetic drug (oxytocin) frequently used in maternity units to induce labour and accelerate contractions. For many women it speeds up the delivery process, helps the womb to contract after childbirth and prevents excessive bleeding.

However, both mother and child have to be carefully monitored during the administration of the drug. Syntocinon can caused adverse reactions with other medication and escalate foetal distress when a baby is deprived of oxygen.

Syntocinon is listed as one of ten “high-alert medications”, and has been identified as one of the causes for the death of four babies at the Portlaoise Hospital in the past six years. There have also been several Syntocinon compensation claims made against the HSE when children have survived foetal distress, but have been born suffering from cerebral palsy.

One of the more recent Syntocinon compensation claims was heard at the High Court in February. It resulted in a three-year-old girl being awarded an interim settlement of €2.32 million due to a failure to monitor her heartbeat after Syntocinon had been administered to her mother.

Lack of Consistency in Syntocinon Use

A report recently released by the State Claims Agency – the agency that pays settlements of Syntocinon compensation claims – has shown an alarming lack of consistency in the way Syntocinon is used in maternity departments and how mothers and babies are monitored.

The report revealed that one maternity unit had no guidance on the drug´s use; thirteen had dissimilar guidelines; six had introduced policies; five relied on protocols; three had developed procedures and one had a “checklist”.

The State Claims Agency’s clinical risk adviser, Mary Godfrey, has said that national guidelines are required to improve outcomes for mothers and their babies, and to reduce the number of Syntocinon compensation claims made against the state.

However Ms Godfrey neglected to comment on one area of the report which stated “No service obtains explicit written consent from women prior to starting them on the drug.” This is an important issue which needs to be addressed if the State Claims Agency wishes to reduce the number of Syntocinon compensation claims made against the HSE.

Dublin Employees Making Increased Number of Claims for Needlestick Injuries

The number of compensation claims for needlestick injuries made by employees of Dublin City Council has increased over the past three years.

The year-on-year increases in compensation claims for needlestick injuries was revealed by Fianna Fáil Councillor Jim O’Callaghan, who has analysed personal injury claims made by Dublin City Council employees over the past three years.

According to Councillor O´Callaghan, it is of particular concern that employees´ claims for needlestick injuries have increased in each of the past three years, and he called on Dublin City Council to “review its measures and introduce safer systems of work for its employees immediately”.

Councillor O´Callaghan also raised the question of whether cutbacks in the council´s finances had resulted in a reduction of appropriate training and the provision of personal protection equipment for council employees. A spokesperson for Dublin City Council later told the press that this was not the case.

The data relating to compensation claims for needlestick injuries was included in figures that revealed Dublin City Council paid out more than €8 million in the settlement of personal injury claims during 2014.

Although the majority of the €8 million paid in settlement of personal injury claims was paid to members of the public who most commonly suffered broken limbs, and shoulder and back injuries, due to slips, trips and falls on council-maintained property, €617,000 was paid to council employees.

Claims for Needlestick Injuries Made by the Public

There was no information in Councillor O´Callaghan´s revelations relating to claims for needlestick injuries made by the public against Dublin City Council, but – historically – these have not proved to be successful.

In 2013, simultaneous claims for needlestick injuries against Dublin Council were made by the mothers of two toddlers who had been playing with syringes discarded in Killinarden Park. Neither child had suffered an injury after piercing their hands with the syringes, and the claims were dismissed.

The judge presiding over both claims for needlestick injuries – Mr Justice Matthew Deery – commented that Dublin City Council was making reasonable efforts to prevent the risk of needlestick injuries to park users, and the claim that the local authority had acted “with reckless disregard of the children” could not be substantiated.

Judge Calls for Periodic Payments for Medical Negligence Claims

Another High Court judge has added his voice to the calls for periodic payments for medical negligence claims to avoid errors in compensation payments.

For many years, high-profile High Court judges have called for legislation to be passed in order to enable periodic payments for medical negligence claims. Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill, Mr Justice John Quirke and Ms Justice Mary Irvine have each expressed their frustration at the lack of a structured payment system which, they claim, results in awards of medical negligence compensation becoming a “lottery”.

Inasmuch as reports are always compiled into a plaintiff´s future requirements and compensation awarded on the basis of “anticipated life expectancy”, the judges are conscious that a long-living plaintiff will find their settlements inadequate for their needs. There has also recently been a case in which a judge increased a settlement of medical negligence compensation to account for the decline in interest rates.

Now Mr Justice Bernard Barton has added his voice to the calls for periodic payments for medical negligence claim,s after refusing an application by the National Maternity Hospital to award an interim payment of compensation to a child suffering from catastrophic birth injuries, and have the child´s needs reviewed again in ten years. The case is O’Neill vs National Maternity Hospital.

Although the National Maternity Hospital has admitted negligence, the settlement of the claim is being delayed because the two parties cannot reach an agreement on how much medical negligence compensation the plaintiff is entitled to. Whereas some consensus of opinion has been reached in terms of general damages for pain and suffering, there is a wide difference between what the plaintiff´s counsel are claiming for the child´s future aids and appliances (€445,000) and what the National Maternity Hospital is prepared to pay (€37,000).

Other areas of disagreement include future care and accommodation requirements and future loss of earnings, and the National Maternity Hospital argued that a ten-year adjournment of the case would help to resolve the areas of uncertainty. Mr Justice Barton agreed that the proposals was not without it attractions, as a more accurate settlement of medical negligence compensation would be more ascertainable by the time the injured girl reached the age of majority; however, the injured girl´s mother disagreed with the proposal – citing the psychological harm that her daughter might experience due to years of assessments.

The judge said that in the absence of agreement between the parties, there were no exceptional circumstances that would make it permissible for the Court to intervene against the express wishes of the child’s mother. The judge dismissed the proposal by the National Maternity Hospital, saying that she had exercised her constitutional rights as part of the family unit under the Constitution, and that if a system of periodic payments for medical negligence claims was in place, this situation would not have arisen.

Barrister Comments on Informed Consent in Medical Negligence Cases

Irish Barrister Doireann O’Mahony last week wrote an opinion piece for the Irish Times, in which she commented on informed consent in medical negligence cases.

Doireann O´Mahony qualified as a Junior Counsel in 2012 and specialises in Medical Law. Her book “Medical Negligence and Childbirth” is due to be published later this year, and – due to her expertise in the area – Ms O´Mahony was the perfect legal professional to comment on a recent UK case in which a new benchmark was set on what constituted informed consent in medical negligence cases.

The case in question was Montgomery vs Lanarkshire Health Board – a case that had been appealed to the Supreme Court in the UK, after the mother of a child who suffered avoidable birth injuries at Bellshill Maternity Hospital in 1999 had been denied compensation by both the Outer and Inner Houses of the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The mother – Nadine Montgomery – is petite in stature and suffers from Type 1 diabetes. Women who suffer from Type 1 diabetes are more likely to have larger babies and – prior to the birth of her son – Nadine had expressed concerns about being able to deliver her child safely. When her son – Sam – was born, his shoulder got trapped in the birth canal and he suffered shoulder dystocia as medical staff tried to free him.

Due to the umbilical cord also being trapped, Sam was deprived of oxygen during his delivery and – in addition to sustaining a permanent brachial plexus injury during his birth – also suffers from cerebral palsy. Nadine Montgomery subsequently sued the Lanarkshire Health Board (now NHS Lanarkshire) on the grounds that she would have chosen a birth by Caesarean Section had the risk of shoulder dystocia in a natural birth been explained to her.

During the Supreme Court hearing, Nadine´s consultant gynaecologist – Dr Dina McLellan – admitted that Nadine had repeatedly expressed concerns about giving birth naturally, but said that she had chosen not to explain the risk of shoulder dystocia because if she explained to diabetic women, they would all want it. Dr McLellan told the court that, in her view, it was “not in the maternal interests for women to have Caesarean Sections”.

The seven Supreme Court judges unanimously disagreed with the consultant gynaecologist and said in their judgement that social and legal developments “point away from the relationship between the doctor and patient based on medical paternalism”. The judges ruled that a doctor has a duty of reasonable care to ensure that patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment and that “it was incumbent on Dr McLellan to advise Mrs Montgomery of the risk of shoulder dystocia if she were to have her baby by vaginal delivery, and to discuss with her the alternative of delivery by caesarean section.”

The Supreme Court awarded Nadine £5.25 million compensation for the birth injuries that her son had sustained during his delivery, and said it would be a mistake to view patients in the modern world as “uninformed, incapable of understanding medical matters or wholly dependent upon a flow of information from doctors” – effectively moving the goalposts in respect of informed consent from the “doctor-knows-best professional standard test” to a “reasonable patient test”.

Implications for Informed Consent in Medical Negligence Cases in Ireland

Doireann O´Mahony welcomed the judgement of the UK Supreme Court and the implications for informed consent in medical negligence cases in Ireland. Ms O´Mahony commented that a patient-centred approach to the issue of informed consent has been adopted in virtually every major common law jurisdiction – including the United States, Canada and Australia.

A patient-centred approach to informed consent in medical negligence cases has twice been the preferable test to resolve medical negligence claims in Ireland – in Geoghegan vs Harris (2000) and in Fitzpatrick vs White (2007). Interestingly, in both cases the presiding judge was Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, who took the opinion that medical professional had a duty of care to impart certain information regarding risks, where those risks were likely to be relevant in the eyes of a reasonable patient.

Although the two cases mentioned above were in respect of dental medical negligence and eye surgery medical negligence, Ms O´Mahony compared the two cases to the rights of a pregnant woman prior to and during childbirth. She wrote:

A pregnant woman must be given sufficient understanding to enable her to make a choice in circumstances where she is free to exercise choice. That is what consent is all about and pregnancy is a particularly powerful demonstration of it. Once pregnant, there are only two possibilities, vaginal birth or Caesarean section. There is no third alternative. While most doctors are meticulous in obtaining “consent” for operative intervention, they seem to have little appreciation of the need, equally great, for proper consent to the non-surgical alternative.

Ms O´Mahony concluded her article on informed consent in medical negligence cases by saying that a professional standard test has no place in the 21st century when it comes to childbirth. She welcomed the move away from a paternalistic philosophy in Ireland, and set a question for those who opposed to the reasonable patient test – “what risks of elective Caesarean section could outweigh the known risk, in any particular case of vaginal delivery?”

Compensation for Being Injured on the Luas Approved in Court

A Circuit Court judge has approved a €25,000 settlement of a girl´s claim for compensation for being injured on the Luas.

On 14th February 2008, six-year-old Aoife Heron boarded a Luas ahead of her mother at Connelly Street. Aoife´s mother – Elaine – was pushing a buggy containing Aoife´s younger sister, but failed to get inside the train before the doors closed – trapping the buggy between them.

The automatic doors opened again, allowing Elaine to retrieve the buggy; but, as Aoife attempted to join her mother and sister on the platform, the automatic doors closed once again – trapping Aoife´s head between them.

Aoife suffered a head injury, which was treated at Connelly Street by an ambulance crew. She was later examined by the family GP, who diagnosed soft tissue damage to Aoife´s head and a small amount of bruising.

As a result of the accident, Aoife has a scar on her head and has developed a phobia about travelling on the Luas. The family´s GP has said that Aoife may need psychotherapy in the future to overcome her fear.

On her daughter´s behalf, Elain Heron from Raheny in Dublin claimed compensation for being injured on the Luas against Veolia Transport Dublin Light Rail Ltd – the operators of the Luas – for negligence and breach of duty.

The transport company initially denied liability and prepared a full defence against the claim. However, after a period of negotiation, the two parties agreed to a settlement of €25,000 in compensation for being injured on the Luas.

At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard about Aoife´s accident and the injuries she had sustained. He approved the settlement of compensation for being injured on the Luas, which will be held in court funds until Aoife (who is now thirteen years old) reaches the age of eighteen.

Judge Approves Settlement of Claim for a Failure to Treat

A claim for a failure to treat the mother of a brain damaged girl has been resolved in the High Court after a judge approved a €2.6 million compensation settlement.

Caoimhe Flood (8) was born at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin in April 2006, suffering from cerebral palsy after an alleged failure to treat her mother – Marlis – who had a history of ante partum haemorrhage associated with abdominal pain.

Marlis had attended the Rotunda Hospital on a regular basis from February onwards, and was an inpatient from March 30th to April 2nd because of her abdominal pain. On April 3rd Marlis returned to the hospital for a scan and complained of other symptoms.

It was alleged that the scan was not performed and that Marlis was discharged home. However, the following day Marlis again returned to the hospital with increasing abdominal pain. An examination revealed that she was dilated, and Caoimhe was born later that evening – after what Marlis considered to be an avoidable delay.

After her daughter was born, Marlis made a claim for a failure to treat on Caoimhe´s behalf – alleging that the little girl´s birth injuries could have been avoided if the hospital had responded appropriately to her history of ante partum haemorrhage and abdominal pain.

The allegations were denied by the Rotunda Hospital; but, in 2012, the hospital agreed to a €1.3 million interim settlement of compensation for a failure to treat without an admission of liability. This week, the claim for a failure to treat was back at the High Court again for a final settlement to be approved.

At the hearing Mr Justice Bernard Barton heard how Caoimhe had to be fed via a tube during the first year of her life and now needs full time care as she is a spastic quadriplegic. Approving a final settlement of €2.6 million, the judge said that he was very relieved for the Flood family that the claim for a failure to treat had finally and completely been resolved.

Court Hears of Cerebral Palsy Medical Negligence at Kerry General Hospital

The High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for a three year old girl after hearing of cerebral palsy medical negligence at Kerry General Hospital.

Skye Worthington (now 3 years old) was born at the Kerry General Hospital on 22nd April 2011, after her mother – Colleen – had been given syntocinon to speed up her labour. Although the syntocinon resulted in Colleen´s contractions accelerating, a prolonged deceleration of Skye´s heartbeat in the womb was ignored.

Skye – from Castlegregory in County Kerry – sustained brain damage due to a lack of oxygen in the womb and now suffers from cerebral palsy. She has to be fed through a tube, has difficulty sitting still, and can only communicate by using her eyes. A review of the management of Skye´s birth found that if she had been born just fifteen minutes earlier, she would not have suffered the devastating injuries.

On her daughter´s behalf, Colleen made a claim for compensation against the HSE – alleging cerebral palsy medical negligence at Kerry General Hospital. The HSE acknowledged that errors had been made in the management of Skye´s birth and an interim settlement of €2.32 million compensation was arranged while an assessment takes place to consider Skye´s future requirements.

At the High Court, Skye´s parents were read a statement in which the HSE and Kerry General Hospital apologised unreservedly for the errors in the management of Skye´s birth. The statement also said that lessons had been learned from a review of Skye´s birth in which her parents had participated, which had helped clarify a number of important issues.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross described the apology as “out of the ordinary” and explained to Skye´s parents that the interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy medical negligence at Kerry General Hospital was for the next three years. Once the assessment of Skye´s future requirements had been concluded, the family would have the option of annual periodic payments subject to legislation being passed, or take a lump sum payment in final settlement of Skye´s hospital negligence claim.

Settlement of Compensation for Erb´s Palsy Approved

A €250,000 settlement of compensation for Erb´s Palsy has been approved in the High Court in favour of an eleven-year-old girl.

Keelan Murray from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow was born at the National Maternity Hospital in January 2004. During her delivery, Keelan was identified as having shoulder dystocia – an obstetric emergency in which the shoulders fail to clear the pubic symphysis – which can lead to damage to the brachial plexus nerves if excessive force is used to extract the shoulders.

Damaged brachial plexus nerves can heal themselves over a period of time but, as in Keelan´s case, sometimes the damage is permanent – a condition known as Erb´s Palsy. Now eleven years of age, Keelan is unable to fully use her right arm due to nerve damage she sustained during her delivery and has had to adapt to writing with her left hand.

An operation to repair the damage in 2012 failed to improve her condition and through her mother – Sharon – Keelan made a claim for compensation for Erb´s Palsy against the hospital. In her legal action Keelan alleged that traction was incorrectly applied to facilitate her delivery despite shoulder dystocia having been diagnosed.

The National Maternity Hospital denied that Keelan´s condition had been caused by medical negligence but an offer of compensation for Erb´s Palsy amounting to €250,000 was made without admission of liability. As Keelan is still a legal minor, the offer had to be approved by a judge before the settlement could be accepted.

Consequently, at the High Court, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told how Keelan is a bright young girl who still manages to participate in sports despite her disability. The judge said that it would be prudent to accept the offer of compensation for Erb´s Palsy in the circumstances and approved the settlement – wishing Keelan well for the future.

Judge Approves Settlement of a Claim for a Fatal Injury Caused by a Drunk Driver

A judge has approved the settlement of a claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver relating to an accident that happened almost ten years ago.  

In December 2006, thirty-one year old Martin McDonagh was fatally injured in a single-car accident on the Kilgarvan-Killarney road. Martin was the front seat passenger in a car driven by his brother – Thomas – that, at the time, was being pursued by the Garda at a distance after it had been reported that the car was being dangerously driven.

Thomas McDonagh was arrested and, after it was found he had been driving with excess alcohol in his system, without a license or insurance, charged with dangerous driving causing death. He was given a three-year prison sentence by the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee in 2008 after the court heard that Martin was the third member of the family to be fatally injured in a car crash.

Martin left a widow – Anne Marie – and five children. On behalf of one of the children – Melissa – Anne Marie made a claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver against the Motor Insurers´ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) – an organization that pays injury compensation to the victims of accidents and their families when a negligent driver is uninsured or untraceable.

Liability for the accident was not in doubt due to the custodial sentence delivered by Tralee Circuit Criminal Court, and an offer of settlement was made amounting to €15,000. As the claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver had been made on behalf of a child, the offer had to be approved by a judge before the claim could be concluded.

The approval hearing was held at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, where Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of the accident. Melissa´s counsel also told Judge Groarke that, if the claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver went to a full hearing, the settlement of the claim might be reduced because Martin had got into his brother´s car knowing he was drunk and had failed to wear his seat belt.

Judge Groarke approved the €15,000 settlement of the claim for a fatal injury caused by a drunk driver and closed the hearing by expressing the court´s deep sympathy to Anne Marie and her family.

Trial Proposed to Reduce Cost of Medical Negligence Compensation Claims in Ireland

The Medical Protection Society has proposed a trial “pre-action protocol” with which it aims to reduce the cost of medical negligence compensation claims in Ireland.

The Medical Protection Society (MPS) is an organisation that provides legal help to medical professionals from consultants to dental assistants. Its “pre-trial protocol” is a voluntary process which aims to increase transparency and openness between lawyers representing parties in a claim for medical negligence compensation, so that claims can be resolved quicker and the costs of medical negligence compensation claims in Ireland can be reduced.

Due to the expense involved in litigating medical negligence compensation claims in Ireland some plaintiffs never recover the compensation they are entitled to. The MPS hopes that – with the opportunity for medical negligence claims to be investigated and resolved before litigation is necessary – the protocol should reduce the cost of medical negligence compensation claims due to using mediation to settle claims quicker in a less adversarial environment.

Emma Hallinan – Director of Claims at MPS – said “We recognise the important role that the MPS must play, and have committed to trialling procedural reform before it is introduced in statute. We are in the process of writing to plaintiff lawyers with large medical negligence practices to request that they work with us to pilot this.” A similar protocol currently exists in England and Wales which penalises solicitors who do not attempt a resolution by mediation before taking a claim to litigation.

During the proposed trial of the “pre-action protocol”, a tariff of general damages would provide a scale of compensation values for specific physical injuries caused by medical negligence. This is not dissimilar to the Injuries Board´s “Book of Quantum” or the UK´s Judicial College “Guidelines for the Assessment of General Damages in Personal Injury Cases.”

General damages for psychological trauma and loss of amenity would still have to be resolved by negotiation as would special damages for the financial implications of medical negligence – but many people looking at the MPS´s “pre-action protocol” proposals agree that it is a positive step towards reducing the cost of medical negligence compensation claims in Ireland.

Settlement of Compensation for being Bitten by a Dog Approved in Court

A €150,000 settlement of compensation for being bitten by a dog has been approved in the High Court in favour of a twelve-year-old girl.

Lauren Kelly from Abbeylara in County Longford was playing “hunting the wren” with family and friends on St Stephens Day in 2011, when she was attacked by a Rottweiler that had escaped its home by jumping over a wall and was roaming the streets.

Lauren suffered twenty-six puncture wounds to her upper right arm and injuries to her neck and right shoulder as she was “tossed around like a rag doll”. Lauren escaped further injury when her mother and friends intervened, and she was taken to hospital.

At the hospital, Lauren was treated for her injuries and subsequently had to undergo skin graft operations which left her with twenty visible scars on her arm. She still has to wear a protective medical sleeve when swimming to prevent infections from developing.

Through her parents – Michael and Marcella Kelly – Lauren claimed compensation for being bitten bya dog against the Rottweiler´s owner – William Crawford also of Abbeylara, County Longford – alleging that Crawford had been negligent by having inadequate measures to stop the dog from escaping.

The compensation claim was initially disputed, but a settlement of compensation for being bitten by a dog was eventually agreed amounting to €150,000. However, before the claim could be finalised, the settlement of compensation had to be approved by a judge due to Lauren´s age.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the circumstances of the attack and the injuries that Lauren had sustained. The judge approved the €150,000 settlement of compensation for being bitten by a dog, which will be held by the court in an interest-bearing account until Lauren reaches the age of eighteen.

Interim Settlement of Compensation for Birth Injuries Approved at High Court

A third interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries has been approved at the High Court after the judge turned down a request for a full payment to be made.

Nineteen-year-old Connor Corroon from Mallow in County Cork was born on February 6th 1995 at the Cork City General Hospital after being starved of oxygen in the womb. As a result of the hospital´s negligence, Connor is now permanently disabled with cerebral palsy, cannot speak and is confined to a wheelchair.

In 2010, Connor made a claim for compensation for birth injuries through his mother – Judith Corroon. The Cork City General Hospital acknowledged its liability for his injuries and an interim settlement of €1.6 million was approved pending the introduction of structured payment legislation. Connor´s was the first case to be dealt with in this way.

Last year Connor received a second interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries claim amounting to €475,000 and was due to receive a third payment. On Connor´s behalf, his mother appealed to the High Court that this third interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries should be a full and final payment.

Mrs Corroon explained to Mr Justice Bernard Barton at the High Court that Connor has to undergo a series of assessments each time he re-appears in court and she wanted her son to be able to get on with his life and go to college. Under the current arrangement, Connor has undergone more than twenty assessments each time an interim payment is due.

Judge Barton turned down the request for a full settlement of compensation – stating that it would be catastrophic for Connor if the court were to approve a final settlement and the money run out later in his life. He also explained that he had recently received a consultation paper relating to the proposed Civil Liability (Amendment) Bill that aims to introduce periodic payments system next year.

After hearing that the family had agreed to another interim settlement of compensation for birth injuries, the judge approved an interim settlement of €1.45 million and adjourned Connor´s case for a further five years.

HSE Investigates Claims of Negligent Care at Home for Intellectually Disabled

The HSE is two launch two investigations into claims of negligent care at a home for intellectually disabled residents following revelations made in the RTÉ documentary Primetime.

The RTÉ documentary focused on negligent care at a home for the intellectually disabled in Swinford, County Mayo – Áras Attracta. “Inside Bungalow Three” contained video footage of residents being physically and emotionally abused that had been secretly recorded by a member of RTÉ´s investigative team posing as a work experience student.

Among the most disturbing examples of negligent care shown in the documentary were scenes of the residents being kicked and slapped, denied access to the bathroom and being sat upon. The abuse of defenceless residents prompted Taoiseach Enda Kenny to described the negligent care at the home for the intellectually disabled as “sickening”.

Prior to the broadcast of the program, RTÉ contacted the Health Service Executive (HSE), who have now launched two investigations –  Christy Lynch, chief executive of the KARE organisation for people with disabilities in County Kildare will chair an investigation into the allegations specifically made in “Inside Bungalow Three”, while Dr Kevin McCoy, a consultant and former member of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, has been appointed by the HSE to lead a review of services at Áras Attracta generally.

The director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, said in a statement that the examples shown of negligent care at the home for the intellectually disabled “falls well below the standards that we expect in the health services”. Several members of staff have subsequently been suspended, and the Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) are also conducting investigations into the alleged abuse at Áras Attracta.

Tony O´Brien also apologised to the residents of Áras Attracta and their families for the negligent care that had taken place. He said that the HSE did not wish to “pre-empt the findings of an independent investigation” but that it has taken several immediate actions to “guarantee that a safe and caring environment exists for the residents of Bungalow Three”.

Daughter Successfully Claims Compensation for Mesothelioma Cancer from Father´s Former Employers

The daughter of an engineer, who was exposed to asbestos when working on ships, has successfully claimed compensation for mesothelioma cancer from her father´s former employers.

Peter McCormack died at the age of 73 in December 2013, eighteen months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer – a cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs and is caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust and fibres.

Before he died, Peter – from Whickham in Tyne and Wear – had sought legal advice to see if he was entitled to claim compensation for mesothelioma against his former employers, on the grounds that they failed to protect him from exposure to asbestos.

From 1957 to 1962, Peter had served as an apprentice for EON UK before becoming a mechanical fitter. During his time with the company, he worked alongside laggers who mixed and applied asbestos lagging to new pipes and fittings.

From 1965 to 1997, Peter was again exposed to asbestos when employed at OSG Ship Management (formerly W A Souter Ltd) as an engineer. His duties at OSG included repairing pipes that had been lagged with asbestos onboard the company´s ships.

It was also alleged that there a prevalence of surface asbestos dust on some of the ships managed by OSG, and when the dust was disturbed it was released into the air and inhaled by employees of the ship management company.

After Peter passed away, the claim for compensation for mesothelioma cancer was pursued by his daughter Elke (41) on behalf of herself and her sister, Natalie. Elke worked with the solicitors originally engaged by her father until liability was acknowledged and the claim for compensation was settled.

Elke and Natalie will now share in a six-figure settlement of Peter´s claim for mesothelioma cancer compensation, and Elke commented “Hopefully, this settlement will highlight to employers the need to protect people from exposure to asbestos, so other families do not have to watch their loved ones deteriorate so quickly.”

Man Settles Claim for Slip on Stairs of Council Property

A man from Cork has settled his claim for a slip on stairs of a council property one day into a hearing to determine liability at the High Court.

William Busteed (59) from Cork City was departing his council-owned apartment to catch a flight to Majorca on 9th May 2009, when he slipped on a wet step of the complex´s stairway and fell down to the bottom of the stairs – sustaining injuries to his face and left shoulder, and fracturing his left arm.

William was taken to the Cork University Hospital, where he received treatment for his injuries; and, after seeking legal advice, he made a claim for a slip on the stairs of council property against Cork City Council.

William claimed in his legal action that a smoke alarm in the six-unit complex would go off twice a week and that this caused vents above the stairwell to open and allow the rain in. The vents could only be closed by a council workman, and William claimed to have informed Cork City Council about the hazard, but nothing had been done about it.

Cork City Council contested the claim for a slip on stairs of a council property. It produced evidence that William´s complaints had been dealt with within 48 hours of them being made, and claimed that the reason he fell in the stairwell was because he was intoxicated and in a hurry to get to the airport. The council also produced William´s medical report from when he attended Cork University Hospital which, the council claimed, showed a high level of alcohol in his blood.

William denied that he had been drinking excessively, and told Mr Justice Daniel Herbert at the High Court that on the day of the accident he had drunk no more than two small bottles of beer. He explained to the judge that he was aware airlines would not allow passengers to fly in an intoxicated condition and would not put himself into that position.

William´s claim for a slip on the stairs of a council property was adjourned until the following day but, before the hearing could restart, Judge Herbert was informed that a negotiated settlement of William´s claim had been agreed and that the case could be struck out.

IHCA Claims Health Service Funding Crisis Increasing Risk of Hospital Deaths

A warning that the health service funding crisis is increasing the risk of hospital deaths has been made by the President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association at its annual conference in Cork.

Dr Gerard Crotty was addressing delegates at the Irish Hospital Consultants Association AGM when he said that patients were almost certainly dying unnecessarily in Irish hospitals while waiting for a hospital bed. He used figures from international studies to highlight a 30 percent increase in hospital deaths when patients are left waiting on trolleys after being admitted to hospital.

Dr Crotty told delegates that he feared what will happen during the winter months; pointing out that there had been a substantial decline in day case patients while hospital beds were being allocated to emergency cases. He said that years of “easy cost-saving measures” was the cause of the health service funding crisis, and that the health service in Ireland was now showing the strain.

Referring to the health service as being in “intensive care”, Dr Crotty forecast that there would be a patient safety crisis unless the Government significantly increased funding for frontline health services. He called for a realistic budget – rather than a token gesture by the Government – in order to deliver safe, high quality care to patients without the unacceptable delays which are currently being experienced.

During his speech, Dr Crotty also touched upon the acknowledgement by Health Minister Leo Varadkar that the 30 percent pay cut for new entrant consultants had been a mistake. Dr Cotty claimed that it had done nothing to alleviate the health service funding crisis and that it had reduced the attractiveness of senior medical positions. He called upon the Health Minister to completely reverse the 30 percent pay cut to halt the flow of newly graduating doctors taking positions overseas.

Delegates at the conference also heard their General Secretary – Martin Varley – announce that a number of consultants had taken legal action against the Department of Health to recover the pay rises they were promised in 2008. Under the agreements – Mr Varley told delegates – consultants were due pay rises from €175,000 to €240,000, but the increases failed to materialise when the economic crisis developed and the Department of Health prioritised other areas of the health service.

Settlement of Child´s Cerebral Palsy Claim for Compensation Approved at the High Court

The settlement of a child´s cerebral palsy claim for compensation has been approved at the High Court despite questions over liability.

Emma O´Donnell was born at the National Maternity Hospital in Dublin on 9th June 1998. Six hours after her suction birth, Emma turned blue and started to have seizures. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and now requires full-time care due an intellectual disability and behavioural problems,

Emma (now 16 years of age) has been cared for by her father – James Forde from Aklow in County Wicklow – since her mother was diagnosed with a significant bi-polar condition and institutionalised in 2007. James gave up his job to look after his daughter and has been her full-time carer ever since.

James made a child´s cerebral palsy claim for compensation on his daughter´s behalf, but encountered difficulties finding a link between the treatment Emma had received at the National Maternity Hospital before and after her birth, and the cerebral palsy.

Solicitors working on Emma´s behalf attempted to recover €9 million in compensation from the hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE); but a value of €6 million was placed on the claim by the HSE – and only then if full proof of negligence could be established.

Eventually a compromise was agreed without admission of liability in which the child´s cerebral palsy claim for compensation would be settled for €3 million subject to the approval of a judge.

Consequently, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns at the High Court in Dublin heard the tragic case of Emma´s birth and her life to date. He was told that the compensation claim had been brought so late in Emma´s life due to the difficulty of establishing liability and that the hospital had provided a letter of consent to settle the claim for €3 million.

Having reviewed the case, Judge Kearns agreed with Emma´s solicitors that it would be difficult to establish full proof of negligence if the case went to a full hearing, and he approved the settlement of the child´s cerebral palsy claim for compensation – describing the care that had been provided by James for Emma as “heroic”.

Injury Claim for Bin Truck Accident Settled for almost €5 Million

A judge has ruled that an injury claim for a bin truck accident should be settled for €4,885,888 after a hearing at the High Court.

Padraig Hearns was enjoying a night out in Dublin on 23rd April 2007 when he was assaulted in Sycamore Street in the city´s Temple Bar area and was subsequently run over by a Dublin City Council bin truck, as he lay dazed and confused in the road.

Due to the bin truck running over him, Padraig (39) from Hollywood in County Wicklow sustained a fractured skull and severe arm and injuries. He was put into an induced coma on arrival at hospital, where he stayed for several months recovering from his injuries.

Due to the brain injury sustained when the bin truck ran over him, Padraig – a former air steward for British Airways – will never be able to work again or live an independent life. He currently lives at home where he is cared for by his parents and siblings.

Padraig´s parents made an injury claim for a bin truck accident against Dublin City Council, but the local authority denied their responsibility for Padraig´s injuries – arguing that it was not the fault of the bin truck operators that Padraig had been lying in the street at the time of the accident.

The claim went to the High Court, where it was heard before Mr Justice Michael Peart. The judge found in Padraig´s favour after being told that Dublin City Council had broken its own by-laws by collecting commercial waste in Temple Bar between the hours of 12:00pm and 6:00pm.

The judge noted “It makes complete sense from a public safety point of view that these large refuse trucks would not be permitted to try and negotiate their way through an area such as the narrow and crowded streets of Temple Bar when so many people are present”.

Judge Peart added that the operators of the bin truck had a duty of care to have one operator outside of the truck as it moved on in order to ensure that it was safe to do so. He considered that Dublin City Council´s bin truck operators had broken that duty of care by failing to notice Padraig lying in the path of the vehicle.

The judge awarded Padraig €4,885,888 in settlement of his injury claim for a bin truck accident which included €350,000 for past and present pain and suffering, €266,341 for loss of earnings, €155,230 for care costs to date and €3,485,000 for care costs in the future. He also awarded costs against Dublin City Council.

Personal Injury Claim for Adverse Reaction to Medication Given Green Light

A woman´s personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication has been given the green light to be heard in the High Court later this year.

Lorna Savage from Cobh in County Cork was granted permission to pursue her personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication after a High Court hearing in which the pharmaceuticals company – Pfizer – had applied for the case to be struck out on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim.

Mr Justice George Birmingham at the High Court dismissed the application after hearing how Lorna (now 43 years of age) had started taking the steroid Deltacortril in 1997 to treat vasculitis – a condition in which the blood vessels are damaged and cause an irritable rash.

Judge Birmingham was told that within a few years of taking the medication, Lorna had developed Avascular Necrosis – a rare but established side effect of Deltacortril, which interrupts the passage of blood to the bones, causing the bone tissue to die and the bone collapse.

By 2001 – at the age of 31 – Lorna had to have both knees and a hip joint replaced, and her condition has deteriorated to such an extent that she is now confined to a wheelchair and has to take morphine to manage the ongoing pain she suffers.

After seeking legal advice, Lorna made a personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication against the estate of GP Dr. Michael Madigan and her consultant Dr. MG Molloy – who both prescribed the medication to her – and Pfizer, the manufacturer of the steroid.

In her action against the two doctors, Lorna alleged that they had both acted negligently by prescribing the medication for her, failing to investigate her symptoms thoroughly, and failing to identify that she was developing Avascular Necrosis.

Lorna also claimed that Pfizer had failed to provide adequate warning in the literature accompanying the Deltacortril tablets that their continued use could cause Avascular Necrosis, and that there was no warning advising against the drinking of alcohol while taking the tablets.

The estate of Dr Madigan (who died in 1999), the HSE (of behalf of Dr Molloy who was employed by Cork University Hospital) and Pfizer each deny their liability for Lorna´s adverse reaction and, in a pretrial motion, lawyers representing Pfizer attempted to get Lorna´s personal injury claim for an adverse reaction to medication thrown out on the grounds of “an inordinate and inexcusable delay” in bringing her claim to court.

However, Mr Justice George Birmingham dismissed the application – finding that the time that had elapsed was excusable due to Lorna having recently undergone multiple surgeries after which she had been unable to brief her solicitors. The judge said that the case would be listed for a full court hearing later in the year.

Welfare Benefits to be Deducted from Compensation Settlements in Ireland

New laws are being applied from tomorrow (1st August) that will see certain welfare benefits deducted from compensation settlements in Ireland.

The Department of Social Protection´s “Recovery of Certain Benefits and Assistance Scheme” comes into force tomorrow following the passage of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act last year. The scheme replaces the current practice of deducting welfare benefits from calculated loss of earnings and operates in a similar way to the Compensation Recovery Unit in the UK.

From 1st August a compensator – usually the insurance company of the negligent party – will be required to apply for a statement of recoverable benefits from the Department of Social Protection and will then reimburse the Department for benefits that the plaintiff has received over the previous five years that are directly related to the injury or accident for which their claim was made.

Copies of the statement will also be sent to the plaintiff´s solicitor (and the Injuries Board where applicable) detailing deductions to be made from compensation settlements in Ireland for receipt of the following welfare benefits:

  • Injury Benefit
  • Illness Benefit
  • Partial Capacity Benefit
  • Incapacity Supplement
  • Disability Allowance
  • Invalidity Pension

The deduction of welfare payments from compensation settlements in Ireland is not the responsibility of the plaintiff, nor does the receipt of welfare benefits exclude a plaintiff from claiming injury compensation due to somebody else´s negligence. The only likely noticeable difference for plaintiffs is that the payment of compensation settlements in Ireland will take longer to process (up to four weeks).

An appeals procedure exists if a plaintiff contests the amount of welfare payments being recovered, and it is important that plaintiffs examine their copy of the benefits statement to ensure that it is accurate, and that deductions made from compensation settlements are relevant only to the welfare benefits they have received in respect of their injury.

In the event that plaintiffs are unsure about the assessment of their injury compensation claim – and the welfare payments deducted from it – it is recommended that professional legal advice be sought from a solicitor.

Compensation Claim for Delayed Operation that Resulted in Death of Wife Resolved after High Court Hearing

A widower´s compensation claim for a delayed operation that resulted in the death of his wife has been resolved at the High Court after a settlement of €165,000 was approved.

Helen Malone from Carlow Town died at St Luke´s General Hospital in Kilkenny on 12th January 2006 four days after she had undergone surgery for a bowel problem. The cause of death was recorded as systemic sepsis and multiple organ failure due to a bowel failure, and a subsequent investigation into her death determined that, had Helen undergone the operation earlier, there was a strong likelihood that she would have survived.

Helen´s widower – Patrick – made a claim for a delayed operation that resulted in the death of his wife against consultant doctor George Nessim and the HSE on the grounds that the avoidable loss of his wife had caused great mental distress to himself and Helen´s six adult children.

Despite the Irish Medical Council finding Dr. Nessim guilty on four charges of professional misconduct, the HSE denied its liability for Helen´s death and court proceedings were issued. It was only as the scheduled date of the court hearing drew closer that the HSE finally agreed to settle Patrick´s claim, but due to the nature of Helen´s death, the €165,000 settlement of compensation for a delayed operation first had to be approved by a judge.

After being postponed on five separate occasions, the circumstances of Helen´s wrongful death were related to Mr Justice Ryan at the High Court. Judge Ryan and members of the Malone family heard an apology read to them on behalf of the HSE in which the Executive apologised for the failings in treatment and care that were afforded to Helen. The HSE also acknowledged that the treatment provided for Helen did not meet the appropriate standard of care, which led to a series of events “giving rise to her untimely death”.

Judge Ryan commended the two parties for settling a “difficult, painful and tragic case” and, noting that the settlement of compensation for a delayed operation that resulted in a death did not include aggravated damages, he approved the €165,000 settlement.

Compensation for Death of Passenger in Fatal Car Accident Approved in Court

A family from County Monaghan has been in court to hear the settlement of compensation for the death of a passenger in a fatal car accident approved by a judge.

The widowed husband of Rose Martin (57) of Carrickakelly in County Monaghan and members of the couple´s family made their claim for compensation after the events of New Year´s Eve in 2006, when a car driven by Jason Kearney of Dundalk, County Louth, crashed head-on into the Martin´s car.

William Martin´s leg was broken in the accident, while the couple´s 28-year-old son – David – had to undergo emergency surgery for an abdominal injury at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Rose suffered devastating internal injuries in the accident, and died in hospital eleven days later.

On behalf of the family, William Martin claimed compensation for the death of a passenger in a fatal car accident, and for the injuries that both he and his son had sustained. In his action against Kearney, William alleged that Kearney had been driving too fast for the road conditions and prevailing weather.

Liability was acknowledged by the negligent driver´s insurance company and a compensation settlement of €650,000 was negotiated for Rose´s wrongful death and the physical and psychological injuries sustained by the other family members.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard about the circumstances of the accident, how David Martin suffers from Down Syndrome and that Rose had been his primary carer throughout his life. The judge was also told about the shock that William Martin had suffered on learning that his wife was dying from her injuries.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement of compensation for the death of a passenger in a fatal car accident, and extended her sympathy to the family.

Lack of Periodic Payments Frustrates Judge in Obstetrician Negligence Claim

A High Court judge displayed her frustration at the failure of Ministers to introduce periodic payments when approving a second interim payment of compensation in part-settlement of an obstetrician negligence claim.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine has many times called for legislation to be passed so that periodic payments can be awarded to claimants with catastrophic life-long injuries and, at the High Court in Dublin, the judge once again displayed her frustration at not being able to approve a structured settlement in the case of Luke Miggin – an eight-year-old boy who suffered severe brain damage prior to his birth due to the negligence of his mother´s consultant obstetrician.

Luke was born at the Mullingar General Hospital on 26th February 2006 after consultant obstetrician Michael Gannon had failed to act on CTG traces taken throughout the day which showed a deceleration of the foetal heart rate. Luke´s delivery was delayed several hours longer than would reasonably be expected, and when he was born needed resuscitation and was transferred to the special care baby unit.

Because he was starved of oxygen in the womb, Luke now suffers from cerebral palsy, is unable to walk and requires around-the-clock attention.

Through his mother – Emily Miggin of Athboy, County Meath – Luke made an obstetrician negligence claim for compensation, and in 2010 Dr Gannon and the Health Service Executive admitted liability. In January 2011, an interim settlement of compensation amounting to €1.35 million was approved by Mr Justice John Quirke, and Luke´s obstetrician negligence claim adjourned for three years to allow time for a periodic payment system to be introduced.

However, with no such structured compensation system yet in place, Emily Miggin returned to the High Court to have a second interim payment of compensation approved by Ms Justice Mary Irvine. Judge Irvine commended Emily for her patience and commented that ongoing litigation prevents families such as the Miggins from getting on with their lives. She apologised for her frustration at not being able to approve a structure settlement and criticised successive Ministers of Justice for failing to deliver on their promises of a periodic payment system.

Judge Irvine then approved the €580,000 interim settlement of compensation and adjourned Luke´s obstetrician negligence claim for a further three years, when the family will have to have Luke´s future needs re-assessed and return to court once again.

Judge Grants Permission for Hospital Wrongful Death Claim to Proceed

A High Court judge has granted permission for a widower to proceed with a hospital wrongful death claim for compensation after the HSE used the Statute of Limitations to contest its legality.

Dolores Hewitt from Navan in County Meath had been on a monitoring regime at Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan after making a full recovery from breast cancer in 2001. In February 2007, an ultrasound examination discovered two cancerous lesions on her liver, but no immediate action was taken.

Some five months later, a chance meeting between Dolores and her surgeon led to further scans being performed. The second series of scans showed further lesions on her liver, and Dolores started a new course of treatment but unfortunately died in June 2010.

In January 2012, Dolores´ widowed husband – Joseph Hewitt – made a compensation claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE) for Our Lady´s Hospital failing to act on the scan results in February 2007. In his action he claimed that that Our Lady´s Hospital had been negligent by not responding to the early indicators of cancer. He also claimed compensation for Dolores´ “wrongful death”.

The HSE contested the hospital wrongful death claim on the grounds that the alleged failure to act occurred in 2007, and therefore a claim made in 2012 was outside of the two years Statute of Limitations. The HSE applied for the case to be dismissed, but Joseph opposed the application and the case went before Ms Justice Marie Baker at the High Court.

In the High Court, Judge Baker said that the HSE was correct that Joseph was outside the Statute of Limitations to claim compensation for the hospital´s failure to act in respect of the alleged negligence that occurred in 2007, but was within the allowed time period to make a hospital wrongful death claim for compensation, as the claim had been initiated nineteen months after Dolores had died.

Boy Overcome by Slurry Pit Fumes Dies in Hospital

A young boy who was overcome by slurry pit fumes on a farm in County Antrim has died in hospital after emergency services failed to revive him.

Robert Christie (8) from Donloy in County Antrim is believed to have been overcome by slurry pit fumes as he helped his father mix slurry on a neighbour´s farm. Both he and his father – Bertie Christie – were found on Saturday afternoon by a postman delivering mail to the address, and an ambulance was called immediately.

Robert was airlifted to Belfast´s Royal Victoria Hospital but doctors were unable to save his life, while Bertie Christie was taken by ambulance to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, where his condition remains in critical condition.

On request of the family, the police have not released details of how Robert was exposed to the deadly slurry pit fumes, but an explanation of how such deadly accident can occur was offered by the Deputy President of the Ulster Farmers Union, Barclay Bell.

Mr Bell explained that slurry pits at this time of the year often contain the waste materials of animals that have been kept indoors over the winter. The slurry is used as a fertiliser on farms, but before being able to use it, it has to be agitated so that it can be spread.

However, while the slurry has been resting since the winter a lethal combination of gasses develops – most noticeably hydrogen sulphide – and during the agitation process, the fumes of these lethal gases are released.

It is difficult to know when the lethal fumes have dispersed because they have no smell and, as the gasses which produce the fumes are heavier than air, they tend to stay low to the ground – potentially explaining how Robert suffered a fatal injury when being overcome by the slurry pit fumes and his father did not.

Northern Ireland´s Health and Safety Executive are already investigating the accident and the organization´s Chief Executive -Keith Morrison – said: “Incidents like this show starkly the dangers which our farming communities face and my heart goes out to those affected by this tragic accident”.

Woman Deaf Due to Medical Negligence has Compensation Settlement Approved in Court

An 18-year-old woman, who is allegedly deaf due to medical negligence, has had a €5 million settlement of compensation approved at the High Court.

Laura Kavanagh from Newtownmountkennedy in County Wicklow contracted meningitis when she was thirteen months old, and an alleged failure by her family GPs to attend her in good time resulted in Laura permanently losing her hearing.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard how Laura´s mother – Simone – had telephoned Dr Frank Malone´s surgery in Greystones in County Wicklow on 29th January 1998 to say that Laura had become ill with a high temperature, was lethargic and had severe fatigue.

When Laura´s condition worsened, Simone Kavanagh rang the surgery again and spoke with Dr Malone´s partner – Dr Paul Crean. Dr Crean said he would make a house call after surgery and – 3½ hours later – he examined Laura and diagnosed a bowel infection.

The following day, Simone Kavanagh called the surgery again to request another visit as her daughter was no better. She was told that it would be at least three hours before a doctor could attend Laura, but when Laura showed signs of improvement, Simone cancelled the house call.

However, Laura´s condition deteriorated once again and, on 31st January 1998, an on-call doctor visited the Kavanagh´s home and immediately admitted Laura to hospital, where she was diagnosed with severe meningitis.

The court heard that Laura lost her hearing due to the illness and now communicates through sign language and some lip reading, but has a moderate intellectual disability.

Through her mother Laura made a compensation claim for being deaf due to medical negligence, alleging that there had been a failure to ensure proper care and continuity of care and a failure to attend Laura in good time.

It was further alleged there had been a failure by Dr Crean to diagnose meningitis or alternatively an alleged failure to attach due weight or concern to Laura´s condition and symptoms.

The claim for being deaf due to medical negligence was denied by the two doctors but, as Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told, and a settlement of €5 million compensation had been agreed without admission of liability.

The judge approved the settlement, commenting that money would never give Laura the life she was meant to have.

Family to Receive Wrongful Death Compensation for the Misdiagnosis of Cancer

A bereaved family is to receive €62,500 wrongful death compensation for the misdiagnosis of cancer after an apology was read out at the High Court.

The family of thirty-one year old Sharon McEneaney – who died from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen in April 2009 – was assembled in the High Court earlier this week to hear an apology read to them by a representative of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, were Sharon first went in October 2007 complaining of a pain in her abdomen.

The court heard how Dr Etop Samson Akpan failed to consider the possibility of a tumour, and it was not until June 2008 – after the intervention of former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon – that a biopsy was conducted which revealed the presence of cancer. By then the cancer had advanced beyond the stage at which it could be treated, and Sharon died ten months later.

An investigation into Sharon´s death conducted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) resulted in thirty-eight separate recommendations being made to prevent the misdiagnosis of cancer happening again at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, while a hearing of the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee found Dr Akpan guilty of a poor professional performance in January 2012.

At the High Court, Margaret Swords – the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – read an apology to Sharon´s family, admitting that the hospital had failed Sharon and that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital was making progress in implementing the changes recommended by the HSE´s report. The court also heard that a settlement of wrongful death compensation for the misdiagnosis of cancer had been agreed amounting to €62,500.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that the settlement of wrongful death compensation for the misdiagnosis of cancer will be divided between Sharon´s mother – June McEneany from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan – and Sharon´s four siblings after €10,000 has been set aside to cover funeral expenses and other costs related to Sharon´s death.

The judge commended the McEneaney family for their “courage and tenacity” through the inquest into Sharon´s death and while ensuring the changes at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital were implemented. “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss,” she commented before closing the hearing.

High Court Approves Compensation for Critical Injuries due to Bus Accident

A €9 million settlement of compensation for critical injuries due to a bus accident has been approved in the High Court in favour of a Spanish student.

On February 4th 2009, twelve-year-old Carlos Tesch was walking along Herbert Road in Bray, County Wicklow, with some fellow Spanish students when a number of youths, who had previously been verbally abusive to them, started to approach the group.

Carlos tried to avoid the older boys by running out into the street; but, as he did so, he was struck by a bus coming up the street from behind him. Carlos suffered catastrophic head injuries in the accident – fracturing the base of his skull, and leaving him unable to talk or walk more than a few steps without help.

Carlos´ father – Hans Tesch – gave up his managerial position to care for his son, and has twice taken him to China for stem cell treatment. Despite his severe disabilities, Carlos still manages to attend the Institute of Further Education in his home town of Bray, County Wicklow, during school hours.

Through his father Carlos claimed compensation for critical injuries due to a bus accident against the operators of the Bray service – Dublin Bus. Dublin Bus denied their liability for Carlos´ catastrophic injuries, arguing that it was unreasonable for the driver of the bus to predict when a child would run out into the road.

Last year the claim proceeded to the High Court, where Dublin Bus was found to be 70 percent liable for Carlos´ injuries after it was admitted that the bus driver had been distracted by a passenger just before Carlos ran out from the pavement. Dublin Bus appealed the High Court decision, but the verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court and the claim returned to the High Court for the assessment of damages.

This week at the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that a €9 million settlement of compensation for critical injuries due to a bus accident had been agreed and, after being told the circumstances of Carlos´ terrible accident – and the care his father had provided in the five years since – Judge Irvine said that her experience of cases such as this made her aware of the sacrifices that parents make when their children are badly injured.

The judge then closed the hearing after approving the settlement.

Dental Complaints Resolution Service Resolves Woman´s Claim for Negligent Dentistry

The Dental Complaints Resolution Service has successfully resolved a woman´s claim for negligent dentistry and secured her €40,000 compensation.

The woman – only identified as living in the east of the country – was featured in the Dental Complaints Resolution Service Annual Report as one of 130 grievances the service received from dental patients in Ireland.

According to the report, the woman had attended her dentist twice a year since 1993 and believed that her teeth were in good health. However, when she visited a cosmetic dentist last year, the woman was told that her gums were not in a good state and she would need remedial work before implants could be fitted.

The woman had to undergo specialist treatment from a periodontist to reverse the damage to her gums – which was both expensive and painful – and she subsequently wrote a letter of complaint to her regular dentist which went unanswered.

The patient then contacted the Dental Complaints Resolution Service, who mediated on her behalf to secure a compensation settlement of €40,000 to resolve her claim for negligent dentistry. However, the compensation settlement only covered a refund of the money she had paid for dental treatment over the past ten years, the cost treatment to her gums and the dental implants, and an amount to pay for check-ups over the next ten years.

Although the complaint to the Dental Complaints Resolution Service and claim for negligent dentistry was resolved satisfactorily, the settlement failed to take into account the pain and suffering the woman had experienced during the remedial treatment, and the emotional trauma that accompanied ongoing and extensive treatment.

If you believe that you have been the victim of negligent dentistry, it is always in your best interests to discuss the nature of your injury with a medical negligence solicitor before accepting any other resolution to your potential claim for injury compensation.

Court Approves Settlement of Missed Diagnosis Compensation for Special Athlete

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of missed diagnosis compensation for an athlete who had been hoping to compete in the Special Olympics.

The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and every two years a Special Olympics World Games takes place which attracts tens of thousands of competitors from all over the world.

In May 2009, Amy Rose McGowan from Trim in County Meath was in training for the Special Olympics that were to take place in Athens in the summer of 2011. Unfortunately, while competing in a 50 metre sprint race, Amy Rose fell and hurt her knee.

She was taken to Our Lady´s Hospital in Navan, County Meath, where doctors diagnosed a soft tissue injury and strapped her knee for support. However, a few months later Amy Rose attended her GP complaining of a pain in her knee.

It was only then that a depressed fracture was discovered – too late for corrective intervention or an operation to break and reset the bone – and due to the oversight of the doctors at Our Lady´s Hospital, it is likely that Amy Rose will need knee replacements in the future.

Because of her intellectual disability, Amy Rose made a claim for missed diagnosis compensation against the Health Service Executive (HSE) through her mother – Collette McGowan. After an investigation, the HSE acknowledged that a mistake had been made and admitted liability for Amy Roses´ knee injury.

A settlement of missed diagnosis compensation amounting to €142,000 was agreed between the two parties; but, as the claim had been made on behalf of Amy Rose because of her intellectual disability, the settlement had to be approved in court.

Consequently, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Michael Peart was told of how Amy Rose had previously won 34 medals and 10 trophies in athletics and swimming before her accident. Approving the settlement the judge said that he was “very impressed and full of admiration” for Amy Rose and that it was a pity her athletics career had been cut short.

Roofer´s Fall from Height Injury Compensation Approved at High Court Hearing

The High Court has approved the settlement of a roofer´s fall from height injury compensation in favour of a man who suffered life-changing brain damage due to the accident.

On 18th July 2012, Paul O’Brien (50) from Glenealy in County Wicklow was working on the roof of a house in Bray on the first day of a roofing contract – his first paid employment since the construction industry went into decline in 2008.

When it started to rain, Paul went to descend from the roof of the house using a ladder that had been propped up against the property to provide access to the roof. As he attempted to get onto the ladder, it slipped on the timber decking it had been placed upon, and Paul crashed to the ground.

Paul suffered a significant head trauma in the accident which manifested into permanent brain damage, and Paul now has limited short-term memory which will prevent him from ever working again.

Through his wife – Sandra – Paul made a compensation claim for a roofer´s fall from height against his employer – Sean Lyons of Clondalkin, Dublin – claiming that Lyons failed to provide a safe environment in which to work or suitable scaffolding to enable him to conduct his work safely.

It was also alleged that the ladder that had been provided was unfit for the purpose of safely descending from the roof, that it had not been fastened to the property, and that the combination of an unsuitable ladder and the wet timber decking on which it had been placed resulted in a hazardous means of exit from the roof.

At the High Court, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Sandra O´Brien had taken a two-year sabbatical from her job to care for her husband; and that a settlement of roofer´s fall from height injury compensation had been agreed out-of-court amounting to €1.5 million.

Judge Irvine approved Paul´s settlement, stating that it was a good one when taking into consideration that Paul´s contributory negligence may have been a factor had the case gone to court. She then closed the hearing, saying that she sympathised with the position of the O’Brien family.

Interim Settlement of Compensation for Cerebral Palsy due to a Delayed Delivery Approved in Court

The High Court has approved an interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery in favour of a teenage girl who delayed delivery resulted in her sustaining life-long injuries.

Mary Malee was born by emergency Caesarean section at the Mayo General Hospital on October 11th 1999, after there had been a delay in finding a consultant gynaecologist to assist with the delivery. As a result of the hospital´s alleged negligence, Mary was born with cerebral palsy and is now confined to a wheelchair.

Through her mother – Maura Malee of Swinford, County Mayo – Mary made a compensation claim for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery against the hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE), alleging that there had been a failure to intervene and conduct a Caesarean section in a timely manner, and a failure to ensure the presence of a paediatrician when it was known that the foetus was suffering distress and likely to need resuscitation.

Mayo General Hospital and the HSE both denied their liability for Mary´s birth injuries; but, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that an interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery had been agreed amounting to €1.5 million, with a further assessment to be conducted within two years.

The judge also heard that Mary was Maura Malee´s fourth child, and that Maura had attended the consultant gynaecologist who had delivered her three previous children several days before Mary was born. The gynaecologist had told Maura that he would not be able to attend her at Mary´s delivery as he was about to start treatment for cancer, but would make arrangements for her to be transferred to the care of another consultant.

Maura saw her GP the following day and was told to go to hospital immediately as she was exhibiting symptoms of pre-eclampsia. She was transferred to the labour ward and underwent a CTG shortly before 6.00am which showed a series of decelerations and a consultant was called. When he arrived at shortly before 7.00am, there was an alleged failure to communicate the severity of Maura´s condition and the Caesarean operation did not take place until after 7.20am. .

In court, Mary´s legal representatives stated that had it been possible to commence the birth earlier Mary´s injuries could have been avoided and, after a statement had been read out by Mary (14) in which she commented “It would have been appreciated had the HSE/Mayo General Hospital said they were sorry”, Judge Irvine approved the interim settlement of compensation for cerebral palsy due to a delayed delivery and adjourned the hearing.

Man to Receive Compensation for Injuries Caused by Excessive Force at Birth

A man from South Wales is to receive compensation for injuries caused by excessive force at his birth which left him with a permanently paralysed left arm.

Jamie Lewis from Blackwood, Caerphilly, was delivered at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport in 1991 suffering from nerve damage in his neck after the delivery team at his birth had used excessive force to free him when he became trapped in the birth canal.

Suffering injuries similar to brachial plexus damage, Jamie grew up unable to use his left arm and hand and was unable to pursue the activities of his peers which made him a target for bullying and hindered his social development.

When Jamie was four years of age, his mother – Cheryl Lewis-Thomas – attempted to make a claim for injuries caused by excessive force at birth, but the solicitor she approached at the time declined to take the case and Cheryl dropped her action against the local health board.

Cheryl was encouraged to pursue compensation for injuries caused by excessive force at birth once again; and, when Jamie was eighteen years of age, he made a claim against the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board – which had taken over responsibility for healthcare at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

Jamie spoke with a solicitor who this time believed that he had a viable claim, and the solicitor argued successfully that the delivery team when Jamie was born had failed to follow the correct procedures after Jamie had become trapped in the birth canal.

The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board accepted liability for Jamie´s arm paralysis due to the negligent actions used to free him at the time, and an out of court settlement of compensation for injuries caused by excessive force at birth was agreed for Jamie (now twenty-three years of age) amounting to £450,000.

Claim for Wrong Test Result Compensation Still Unresolved

A Dublin woman will have to wait to discover whether her claim for wrong test result compensation will be successful, after a judgement was reserved on her High Court case.

On 17th August 2010, thirty-five year old Michelle Kenny attended St James Hospital in Dublin due to feeling unwell after a holiday in Majorca. At the hospital she underwent a chest x-ray and an ECG, which led doctors to believe that Michelle might have a blood clot on her lung and she was subsequently admitted.

Following her discharge a week later, Michelle attended the hospital´s Outpatients Clinic on October 6th; where she underwent a blood test for tuberculosis and was asked if she would consent to a test for HIV.  Michelle agreed, and the following week the hospital rang her with the blood test results.

After explaining that there was no indication of tuberculosis, the hospital told Michelle that it appeared she was positive for HIV. Michelle was devastated and believed she was going to die. Three further blood tests indicated that she did not have the virus but, according to court papers, she suffered a nervous shock.

Michelle withdrew from her social environment and, after it had been discovered that she had been given the results of somebody else´s blood test in error, contacted a solicitor to see if she was entitled to claim compensation for being given the wrong test results.

The solicitor agreed that Michelle had a case worth pursuing, and on her behalf made a claim for wrong test result compensation against St James Hospital. The hospital contested the claim on the grounds that Michelle had suffered no loss or injury as a result of the error, and the case went before Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon at the High Court.

At the High Court, the judge heard how distressed Michelle had been after being told her blood tests indicated that she was HIV positive, and also evidence from St James hospital that the error had been identified quickly and that Michelle had been advised of the mistake straight away.

Judge O´Hanlon decided that she needed more time to consider the merits of Michelle´s claim for wrong test result compensation and reserved judgement on the claim for a future date yet to be determined.

Circuit Court Judge Approves Settlement of Cut Finger Injury Compensation

A Circuit Court judge has approved a settlement of cut finger injury compensation for nine-year-old girl who sustained her injury in the café of Debenhams in Henry Street.

In March 2011, Naoise Walsh from Bluebell in Dublin was just six years of age when she tried to retrieve a drink carton from a fridge located in Debenhams´ café in Henry Street. As Naoise removed the drink carton from the fridge, she caught her finger on the metal shelf in the fridge and it started to bleed profusely.

Naoise was taken to the Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin by ambulance; where the laceration to her finger was dressed. She returned to the Temple Street Hospital the following day where an examination of her injured finger was conducted under a general anaesthetic to check for tendon damage. No permanent injury was found, Naoise´s injury was stitched, and she was discharged from hospital the same evening.

Naoise´s mother took legal advice and, on behalf of her daughter, made a cut finger injury compensation claim on behalf of her daughter. The Debenhams Store in Henry Street admitted that it was liable for Naoise´s injury and a settlement of €10,000 compensation for a cut finger injury was negotiated.

As Naoise was just six years of age when the accident happened, the settlement of cut finger injury compensation had to be approved by a judge before the case can be resolved and, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of Naoise´s injury before approving the settlement of her claim.

Judge Approves Compensation for Injury in a Pub Accident

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for an injury in a pub accident which left an eighty-year-old man brain damaged and needing permanent care.

In April 2011, Frank McHugh from Rathgar in Dublin had been celebrating Easter with his family at the Stags Head pub in Dublin when he left the group to visit the toilets shortly after the dinner had finished.

As Frank started to descend the stairs that led from the pub area to the toilets, he tumbled and fell – sustaining a brain damage which left him in a coma and several fractures of the skull. Due to his head injuries, Frank has no recollection of the fall and will need permanent care for the remainder of his life.

Frank claimed compensation for an injury in a pub accident through his son against Shelbourne O´Brien Ltd – the licensees of the Stags Head – claiming that there was a failure in the duty of care to provide a safe means of access to the toilets and that no warning signs were present advising patrons of the dangers of using the stairs.

Shelbourne O´Brien Ltd contested the claim for pub accident injury compensation – saying that Frank had descended the stairs in an unsafe manner and that he had fallen as a result of his own negligence. The company presented CCTV footage in its defence which showed Frank taking the first step of the stairs and then falling down them.

Despite Shelbourne O´Brien Ltd denying their liability for Frank´s injuries, at the High Court in Dublin Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that the company had made an offer of compensation for an injury in a pub accident amounting to €250,000. The judge heard that the value of the settlement was a fraction of what a full compensation settlement amount to, but that it had been recommended by Frank´s solicitors that the family accept it.

After hearing the circumstances of Frank´s injuries, and of the care that had been provided for him subsequently by his family, Ms Justice Mary Irvine approved the settlement – stating she agreed that €250,000 would not go far in covering the costs of Frank´s care, but Frank´s injury claim for compensation for an injury in a pub accident was lacking in evidence and would likely be unsuccessful if it went to a full trial.

Counsel tells Court HSE Should Apologise for Cerebral Palsy Negligence

The High Court has heard calls for the HSE to apologise for the cerebral palsy negligence that led to a young girl being traumatised at birth and suffering permanent injuries.

Grace Orchard from Carrigaline in County Cork was born at St Finbarr´s Maternity Hospital on 23rd February 2006 after her mother had been administered syntocinon to help speed up her contractions.

According to the evidence provided at the High Court in Dublin, the drug had been administered inappropriately and, as a result, Grace was delivered by forceps after four previous attempts to bring her into the world – including one using a vacuum cup – had failed.

Grace had to be resuscitated after her delivery, and was badly bruised due to the trauma she had experienced. She was subsequently diagnosed with dyskinetic cerebral palsy which – according to counsel – was attributable to “appalling poor handling” by hospital staff during her delivery.

Describing the circumstances of Grace´s birth as a “tragedy”, Grace´s counsel told Mr Justice Daniel Herbert at the High Court that Grace had been left in a catastrophic position and that the HSE should apologise for the cerebral palsy negligence.

The Court heard that Grace´s family did everything they could for her during her early years – including taking her to a specialist centre in New York for physiotherapy – and that Grace had been accepted into mainstream school, but the services available to her are being reduced due to cut-backs.

Through her mother – Deidre O´Callaghan – Grace made a compensation claim for cerebral palsy negligence against St Finbarr´s Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE); and the HSE admitted liability two weeks before the court hearing was scheduled to commence. Consequently the case continues for the assessment of damages only.

Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation for Failure to Act at Birth

A High Court judge has approved a settlement of compensation for a failure to act at birth which resulted in a child suffering serious brain injuries.

At the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard how Katie Martin from Trim in County Meath was born at the Coombe Hospital on November 9th 2000, after her mother – Fiona – had been admitted to the hospital that morning complaining of having irregular contractions.

Fiona underwent a CTG trace after her admission into hospital which suggested that Katie was being deprived of oxygen in the womb. However, it took nearly 90 minutes for staff at the hospital to act on the abnormal readings and organise an emergency Caesarean Section.

When Katie was delivered, she showed no signs of life having suffered a cardiac arrest in the womb, but fortunately staff at the hospital were able to resuscitate her. Katie – now thirteen years of age – had suffered serious brain injuries as a result of being deprived of oxygen, and will need around the clock care for the rest of her life.

Fiona Martin claimed compensation for a failure to act at the birth of her child against the Coombe Hospital; who contested its alleged liability for Katie´s injuries, and argued that Katie was starved of oxygen in the womb before her mother arrived at the hospital. The hospital prepared a full defence against the claim, arguing that that it was already too late to prevent an injury after Fiona´s arrival.

However, Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court heard that a settlement of €4 million compensation for a failure to act at birth had been negotiated without the hospital admitting liability. The judge was told that the case was before her for approval of the settlement and, after hearing the circumstances surrounding Katie´s birth, approved the settlement – commenting that it was a good one considering that the case had been contested by the defendant.

HSE Apologise for Negligent Medical Care in Dehydration Death Case

The High Court has heard an apology from the Health Service Executive (HSE) regarding the negligent medical care which led to a woman dying in hospital from dehydration.

In January 2010, Eileen Brady (65) from Crosskeys, County Cavan, attended her family GP suffering from mouth ulcers. She was referred to Cavan General Hospital, where her condition was diagnosed as being attributable to poor fluid intake, and Eileen was admitted into the hospital to be treated for dehydration.

Eileen – a mother of five – was at the time undergoing chemotherapy at a Dublin hospital and, because of the treatment she was receiving for her stomach cancer, her veins collapsed and the dehydration treatment was ineffective. However, whereas alternative procedures were available to treat Eileen, a “catalogue of errors” then followed at the hospital which resulted in her death the next day from multiple organ failure.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine at the High Court heard medical experts testifying that Eileen´s dehydration could have been reversed if her charts had been examined properly, if senior doctors had been consulted about Eileen´s health or if anybody had spoken with the Dublin hospital that was providing Eileen with her chemotherapy treatment.

Judge Irvine was also told that Martin Brady – Eileen´s son – had made a claim for compensation against Cavan General Hospital and the HSE; alleging that the family had suffered mental distress after his mother´s death due to negligent medical care. The claim, Judge Irvine was informed, had been settled for an undisclosed amount – subject to a public apology.

A solicitor representing Cavan General Hospital and the HSE then read out a statement in which the two parties apologised for the negligent medical care which resulted in Eileen´s death, and the subsequent grief, hurt and stress that had been suffered by her immediate family and friends.

Another of Eileen´s sons – Aidan Brady – responded on behalf of the family. He said he hoped that both Cavan General Hospital and the HSE had learned from “the grave mistakes” made in this case “and that no other family would have to go through the trauma and distress that we have suffered”.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine extended her personal sympathy to Eileen´s family before closing the hearing.