Claims News

Galway City Council Pays Out Over €4m for Personal Injury Compensation Claims Over Three Years

Posted on: December 15th, 2017

A recent report in the Galway City Tribune has revealed that the city has paid over in excess of €4 million in personal injury claim compensation since the beginning of 2015.

The huge expenditure on insurance covers public areas, as well as paying the excess on all claims that are made.

The official figures, obtained by the newspaper through a Freedom of Information request show that the cost of public liability insurance for Galway City Council was  €3.4 million over the same time period. Breaking the costs down year by year gives a figures for 2014 of €1.5 million, €1.4 million in 2015 and just less than €500,000 in 2016.

Along with to paying for insurance cover, Galway City Council also had to pay for the excess on personal injury claims. The figures for this excess amounted to €142,000 in 2016; €242,000 in 2015; and €205,000 in 2014.

A large proportion of the personal injury compensation claims are for injuries suffered in falls on the streets of the city.

As an effort to address this, it was revealed in August 2017 that the paving and cobbles on the Shop Street thoroughfare are to be replaced due to the number of people falling over and hurting themselves.

Galway City Council Representative said, at the time, that plans were in place to solve the uneven paving on the street which has been the subject of many compensation claims.

This comes on the back of a report, in March 2017 which highlighted the fact that more than €63 million was paid out in personal injury compensation by Dublin’s four local authorities in just five years.

Dublin City Council paid out the most – totaling €41,322,784.12 to 3,853 claimants from 2012 until 2016. At the time of the report a South Dublin County Council  spokeswoman said: “The majority of cases in relation to public liability cases are trips, slips and falls on footpaths/roads, or in public parks. A small number of claims are in regard to damage to property, i.e. car tyres.”

 

State Claims Agency (SCA) Handling Employee Sexual Harassment Claims

Posted on: November 9th, 2017

According a recent report by State broadcaster RTE, five members of staff employed in the State healthcare system took sexual harassment legal actions over the last number of years, claiming they were assaulted by service users.

The State Claims Agency has not released specific details about where the alleged abuse took place in any individual cases. They did reveal that the claims are in connection with incidents that happened between 2012 and 2016 and make up almost 50% all sexual harassment claims currently being handled by the State Claims Agency for the State.

The State Claims Agency had initially declined to release any information on such claims, despite calls from Fianna Fail and the Oireachtas Justice Committee for the State Claims Agency for them to make a detailed breakdown of all sexual harassment claims made against individual public sector bodies available for perusal. These pleas came following the initial refusal by the State Claims Agency to release such a breakdown, by employer and sector, of all the sexual harassment claims which it handles on the State’s behalf.

Additionally, in November 2017 The Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee made contact with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan requesting him to support a call for the data to be released. Following this the State Claims Agency made a limited amount of information on the number of such claims available. The SCA did not say where the incidents that claims arose from happened.

In an official statement released the State Claims Agency confirmed that it has managed 11 claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, which it said were “referable to three State Authorities, inclusive of all Delegated Healthcare Agencies, in the years 2012 to 2016”.

It also confirmed that in six of the 11 cases they’ve handled the alleged assailant and assailed person are both staff members. In the remaining five incidents they said the individual believed responsible for the assault was a service user in the healthcare area and the assailed person was a member of staff.

The State Claims Agency (SCA) said that “The claims that the SCA handle, of this nature, are claims which are wholly or mainly ones seeking compensation for injury (mental or physical). We also need further information on the manner in which the SCA deals with such claims, how many of the cases end up in court, full details of all the costs incurred and whether the State seeks to recoup any of these costs from the alleged assailant.”

Dog Bite Compensation of €32,000 Paid after Schoolboy bitten by Neighbour’s dog

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017

Following being attacked and bitten in the face by a neighbour’s dog 15-year-old schoolboy, Adam Russell was today awarded €32,000 compensation for personal injuries.

Counsel for Adam Russell, Brian Sugrue, said the boy was visiting the home of Erica Deacon and Eoin Gibson in the Ballinclea Heights estate in Killiney when the dog, a Weimaraner short-haired German pointer, attacked him (Adam) at the defendant’s home.

Mr Sugrue advised Circuit Court President Justice Raymond Groarke that Adam Russell, who was 12 at the time of the attack, was bitten on his face by the dog while playing with it.

Adam, taking the compensation case through his father Colm Russell, was playing at the residence of Deacon and Gibson on 28 September 2013 when the German Pointer dog suddenly attacked and bit him.

He was rushed to the Swiftcare Clinic, Dundrum, Dublin, where the lacerations to his face were tended to. The injury inflicted to his nose was sutured and the wound just below his lower lip had been closed with surgical glue. The injury suffered to his tooth had later been treated by dentists at Dalkey Dental Clinic.

“Adam suffered three specific face wounds,” Sugrue stated.  “He sustained a significant laceration to the bridge of his nose, a puncture wound to his lower lip and a chip fracture to one of his upper teeth.”

Mr Sugrue said Adam Russell’s injured tooth would possibly need a crown in the future but part of the €32,000 dog attack compensation settlement offer took future dental work into account.

The court was told that Consultant Plastic Surgeon Patricia Eadie had examined Adam’s scars late in 2016 and said that revision surgery may be necessary. The scarring he suffered on his nose is permanent.

Judge Groarke was advised that Mr Sugrue was recommending acceptance of the €32,000 compensation offer.  He commented this was within the ball park of compensation for such injuries, though was not to be considered generous.  The compensation offer was approved will be invested in court funds until Adam Russell becomes 18 years of age in 2019 on 19 December.

Sharp Rise in Compensation Claims Against the State

Posted on: October 8th, 2017

Recent figures released show that the cost of compensation claims taken against the State rose by a massive 22% during 2016.

The increase, which brings the total cost of compensation claims to €2.2 billion, was included in 2016 accounts produced by the State Claims Agency, the Government entity which handles legal actions taken against the State. It is clear from these figures that there has been a surge in the amount of costs incurred due to legal actions involving the State in recent years.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General for  the Government’s financial watchdog remarked on the consistent increase in compensation claims saying, “The number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”.

The figures included in this latest release show that the number of legal actions against the State given a ‘pending’ status numbered 8,900 at the end of 2016. At the end of 2011 this number was 6,000.

The total amount of compensation and legal costs paid out for legal actions against the State in 2016 was €256.2 million. In 2015 the figure was €219.3 million, showing a growth of 20% year on year. This correlates with the total number of actions taken, which grew by 24% to 2,300. There were a number of factors that contributed to this rise.

Factors Leading to Rise in Compensation Claims Against the State

  1. Compensation pay outs for legal actions taken against the child protection agency Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE) made up the majority (€1.9 billion) of the €2.2 billion total amount paid out.
  2. The Department of Justice and Defence, including the Gardaí, prison service and Army, was responsible for claims worth €175 million compared to €27 million for to the Department of Health.
  3. The compensation bill for the Department of Education was approximately €50 million.

The State Claims Agency was established as part of the National Treasury Management Agency(NTMA), to tackle at the increase in compensation claims being taken against the State.

Sisters´ Emotional Injury Compensation Settlement Approved

Posted on: October 5th, 2017

Two sisters, who escaped physical injury in a rear-end car accident, have had their emotional injury compensation settlement approved at the Circuit Court.

On 11th February 2016, the two girls – aged six years and four years at the time of the accident – were in the back seat of the family car, when it was rear-ended by a negligent driver on the Newcastle Road in Lucan, Dublin. The negligent driver admitted liability for causing the accident.

The two girls were examined by the family´s GP the following day, but no physical injuries were identified. However, shortly after the accident, the older of the two girls complained of having a headache and both sisters started showing symptoms of panic when large vehicles passed the car.

A subsequent review of their condition resulted in both girls being diagnosed with “a mild effect on the mental health” – the older girl in particular due to experiencing worry, panic and hyperventilation while travelling in the family car, especially close to where the accident had occurred.

On their behalf, the girls´ mother made an emotional injury compensation claim against the driver of the negligent vehicle and, on the advice of her solicitor, accepted an offer of settlement amounting to €33,000. As the claim had been made on behalf of plaintiffs unable to represent themselves, the emotional injury compensation settlement had to be approved by a judge.

Consequently, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of the accident, the nature of the girls´ injuries and the fact that they had only missed one day from school as a result of the accident in order to be examined by the family´s GP.

The judge also heard the girls´ mother was satisfied with the amount offered and that the emotional injury compensation settlement was to be divided equally between the sisters. Approving the settlement, Judge Groarke ordered that it be paid into court funds until the girls reach the age of eighteen years.

€25,000 Tayto Park Fall Compensation for Boy (13)

Posted on: October 5th, 2017

The High Court has approved an injury compensation settlement of €25,000 for a boy, 13-year-old Conor Bolger, as a result of a the injuries his suffered following a fall from a playground tower at Tayto Park in March 2012.

Mr Bolger, who was just eight years old at the time of the fall, of Briarfield Road, Kilbarrack, filed the legal compensation claim against Ashbourne Visitor Centre Ltd, Co Meath trading as Tayto Park, through his father Brian Bolger due the the injuries he was inflicted with in the incident on March 25, 2012. The boy underwent a surgical procedure to place pins in his lower arm after he fractured his elbow

It was argued by Mr Bolger’s legal representation that tower he was climbing was overcrowded at this time and this caused the fall. In addition to this, it was claimed, the ground surrounding the tower did not have a sufficient amount of protective wood mulch as constant inspections and safety checks were not being carried out in the area. The legal team felt that, had these measures been in place, the plaintiff’s injuries may not have been as severe.

Counsel for Tayto Park (Ashbourne Visitor Centre) David McGrath SC denied these allegation and stated the boy  was climbing the Tayto Park tower when he “just fell” and this was not due to any issue with the tower itself. Mr McGrath advised the High Court Justice Kevin Cross that that boy’s family were happy to agree to a settlement of €25,000 for Tayto Park fall compensation.

High Court Justice Cross approved the settlement, stating that Mr Bolger’s scarred elbow was not “too upsetting”. He also commented that Mr Bolger was known to enjoy playing basketball at the time of the incident and would have had difficulty doing this due to dexterity issues from the injuries.

Man Awarded Compensation for Unfair Dismissal

Posted on: September 18th, 2017

The Workplace Relations Commission has awarded a former employee of the Boyne Valley Group €15,000 compensation for unfair dismissal.

The man from Drogheda in County Louth was employed as a supervisor in the Boyne Valley Group´s distribution centre when, in May 2015, he was dismissed for alleged gross misconduct. His dismissal, it was claimed, was due to personal remarks he had made to a female colleague about her appearance, her future family plans and her financial affairs.

It was also claimed the supervisor had slapped the woman´s hand when she had asked to see a mobile phone he was holding at the time, and had made comments to her implying some of the workforce had been employed on the basis of sexual favours rather than merit. The woman´s complaint was supported by several colleagues, including her mother and boyfriend.

The company accused the former supervisor of singling out the woman for unwanted attention, and had done so publicly to humiliate her. Although the company´s investigations led to no concrete evidence of a physical assault on the woman, the former supervisor was dismissed on the grounds of breaching the company´s policies on bullying and harassment.

The man appealed the decision and made a claim for compensation for unfair dismissal. His case was heard recently by the Workplace Relations Commission and, under cross-examination, the man admitted making comments that could be considered insulting and that he had tried to offer an apology but the woman had refused it.

After hearing details about how the case against the man, the Chair of the Commission commented the processes the company had adopted during its investigation into the allegations and conducting the disciplinary procedures and been fair. The Chair also accepted it was not the Commission´s role to impose its own decision when the decision to dismiss was “within the band of reasonableness”.

However, the Chair disagreed that the man´s dismissal was within the band of reasonableness, and said it was a disproportionate response to the situation. The Commission awarded the former supervisor €15,000 compensation for unfair dismissal, adding that, although the comments were unwelcome to the employee in question, the matter should have been dealt with in a more constructive manner.

Nursing Negligence Claim Settled at Court Hearing

Posted on: September 4th, 2017

A nursing negligence claim, made by a woman who fractured her spine when she fell out of bed, has been settled at a hearing of the Circuit Civil Court.

The plaintiff – a seventy-nine year old woman from Finglas in Dublin – had attended the city´s Mater Hospital for day surgery in April 2015, and was recovering from the general anaesthetic, when she attempted to get out of bed and fell – fracturing her spine in the fall.

The woman – who spent almost a month in the Mater Hospital recovering from her injuries before being transferred to the Clontarf Orthopaedic Hospital for further treatment – now has to wear a lumbar brace and use a Zimmer frame to support herself when she walks.

Having previously led an independent life, and now requiring a considerable level of care from her daughter, the woman made a nursing negligence claim against the Mater Hospital, alleging that it had failed to adhere to its fall prevention policy.

The nursing negligence claim was heard by Judge James O´Donohoe at the Circuit Civil Court, who was told by the plaintiff´s barrister the woman should have been closely monitored following a fall at her home the previous November. An expert witness on behalf of the witness testified the hospital should have been aware of her fall and recorded it in the woman´s care plan.

Judge O´Donohoe heard from the head of nursing, who explained to the judge how the accident had happened, but could not explain why the hospital´s fall prevention policy had not been adhered to or why the nurse who attended the woman after her fall had not been called to give evidence. The judge told the court the absence of the attending nurse spoke volumes.

After hearing from the plaintiff´s daughter that her mother was not the woman she had been prior to her fall, Judge O´Donohoe found in the woman´s favour – awarding her €58,500 in settlement of her nursing negligence claim, but placing a stay on €28,500 of the settlement pending an appeal from the Mater Hospital.

Car Crash Injury Settlements Upheld after Court Hearing

Posted on: August 2nd, 2017

Seven car crash injury settlements, originally awarded by Buncrana Circuit Court in 2015, have been upheld after a hearing of the High Court.

On June 28th 2011, a two-car accident on a roundabout in Lifford, County Donegal, result in seven men suffering soft tissue injuries. The injured men claimed car crash injury compensation against the driver of the vehicle of the vehicle responsible for causing the accident, and against Ryans Investments NI Ltd – trading as Hertz Rent-a-Car – from whom the negligent driver´s car was rented.

In 2015, the seven men were awarded car crash injury settlements of between €5,050 and €9,550 by Buncrana Circuit Court. Ryans Investment NI Ltd appealed the decision, arguing that the injured men were all known to the negligent driver and that the accident had been fabricated with the sole purpose of extracting injury compensation from the company´s insurers.

The appeal was heard last month at the High Court before Mr Justice Charles Meenan. Judge Meenan was told by barristers representing Ryans Investments that the negligent driver had telephoned one of the injured men when returning the hire car to the Derry Hertz office, and that his tone during the telephone conversation had led to the belief the accident was fabricated.

Further investigation by the company´s insurers discovered the negligent driver and plaintiffs were known to each other through their membership of the Joseph Plunkett and Charlie D’Arcy Societies. The insurance company also alleged the plaintiffs had considerably exaggerated the nature, extent, and effects of their various injuries to maximise the value of their car crash injury settlements.

Judge Meenan reserved his decision until earlier this week, when he upheld the car crash injury settlements awarded by the Buncrana Circuit Court. The judge commented that Ryans Investment´s appeal was based on an overhead telephone conversation the negligent driver had made in order to obtain details of the car he had damaged in the accident.

He said “one would have thought, if the collision was a setup, the information sought [by the negligent driver] in the call would already have been firmly fixed in his mind prior to returning the hire car.” He added: “This information would be an essential part of the whole operation.”

Former Scout Leader Sentenced for Sexual Assault of a Teenager

Posted on: July 14th, 2017

A former scout leader has been given a suspended sentence for the historic sexual assault of a teenager that occurred during a camping trip near Waterford.

In June 1976, a small group of teenage boys arrived in Waterford to be taken on a camping trip to nearby Cheekpoint by their scout leader. When the camp was set up, the scout leader – who is now in his 70s and cannot be named as it would identify his victim – called one of the boys into his tent and started tickling him, touching the fourteen-year-old boy inappropriately in the process.

The incident was not reported until 2013, when the victim – now aged 54 years – made a complaint to the gardaí. He claimed that the sexual assault resulted in him suffering nightmares, drinking excessively and taking anti-depressants for 28 years. It was also alleged his business had suffered as a result of the inappropriate actions of his former scout leader.

When questioned by the gardaí, the former scout leader – who has no previous convictions of any nature – admitted the sexual assault of a teenager and was charged with the offence. He subsequently resigned from his position on the board of management at UCC and was placed on the sexual offenders list – due to which he no longer has access to his grandchildren.

At the sentencing hearing at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Eugene O´Kelly heard the defence´s barrister describe the event as “an isolated incident from many years ago” for which the former scout leader was extremely sorry. He was also told that the former scout leader has already paid his victim more than €7,500 compensation for the sexual assault of a teenager.

Judge O´Kelly said he believed there was a “significant element of remorse” by the former scout leader and, initially sentencing him to twenty months in prison, the judge reduced the sentence to fifteen months to take into account that the sexual assault of a teenager took place more than forty years ago and was a one-off offence. He subsequently suspended the sentence for three years.

How to Claim for Workplace Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Posted on: July 12th, 2017

The best way to claim for workplace noise induced hearing loss in Ireland is with the assistance of a personal injury solicitor. This article explains why.

If you have suffered damage to your hearing due to your working conditions, the usual process to claim for workplace noise induced hearing loss is to apply to the Injuries Board for an assessment of your claim. Provided your employer consents to the Injuries Board processing your application, and his or her insurance company agrees with the Injuries Board´s assessment, your claim for workplace noise induced hearing loss will be resolved within six or seven months.

However, will the settlement be wholly appropriate for the injury you have suffered? Only if the full consequences of your injury are communicated to the Injuries Board, who can only assess the value of personal injury claims on the merits of the information it is provided with. If you do not list the full consequences of your injury, the value of your claim will likely be calculated on the information provided in your doctor´s report.

Your doctor´s report will explain what degree of hearing loss you have suffered, but will not communicate how the hearing loss has impacted your quality of life. If, for example, you are no longer able to enjoy watching a film because you cannot follow the soundtrack – or enjoying a drink in the pub because you are unable to follow the conversation – this are factors that should be included when you claim for workplace noise induced hearing loss.

There may be many more factors that should be included in a claim for workplace noise induced hearing loss – some that maybe you have not even noticed yet. If you speak with a solicitor – or have somebody speak with a solicitor on your behalf – the solicitor will likely recommend you maintain a diary to record the times when you quality of life is impacted by your injury. He or she will then include all these factors in your application for assessment to the Injuries Board.

With a full understanding of the consequences of your injury, the Injuries Board will assess your claim for workplace noise induced hearing loss to account for the deterioration in your quality of life as well as the extent of your injury. This could amount to a substantial portion of your compensation settlement and is an important reason why you should only make an application for assessment to the Injuries Board with the assistance of a personal injury solicitor.

Failures and Delays in Diagnoses Top Emergency Room Negligence Claims

Posted on: June 5th, 2017

Failures and delays in diagnosing illnesses and injuries accounted for more than half of the emergency room negligence claims made between 2010 and 2014.

Last week the State Claims Agency released its review of “National Clinical Incidents, Claims and Costs” covering the period between 2010 and 2014. In the publication, the nature of clinical incidents is categorised into medical, surgical, maternity, disability or elderly care. Within each category, the reasons for the most common clinical negligence claims are listed.

Within the medical negligence category, a sub-category has been created to account for clinical incidents in hospital emergency rooms and the claims that result when an adverse outcome has occurred. At the top of the list is the failure to diagnose an illness or injury and, once the number of delayed diagnoses is taken into account, the two combined account for more than 60% of emergency room negligence claims.

Overall there were more than four times as many claims for a failure or delay in diagnosing an injury or illness as there were in the second most common reason for emergency room negligence claims – the failure to treat or a delay in treatment. Other motives provided for emergency room negligence claims included foreign objects left inside a patient, soft tissue damage during the administration of treatment and avoidable reactions to known allergens.

The reasons given for their being such a high proportion of emergency room negligence claims related to diagnostic failures were the failure to perform a radiograph (or interpret the results correctly) in the case of a fracture, and incomplete medical examinations in other illness and injury scenarios. Other areas of concern included incomplete patient note taking and a lack of communication.

The aim of the review – according to the review´s lead author Dr Dubhfeasa Slattery – is to improve patient safety by analysing the most common areas of failure and implementing measures to improve patient care. It is hoped that this process – described by Dr Slattery as a “learning health system” – has a positive effect in relation to the treatment received in hospital emergency rooms and leads to a reduction in emergency room negligence claims.

Compensation for the Abuse of a Toddler at a Creche Approved at the Circuit Civil Court

Posted on: May 24th, 2017

A settlement of compensation for the abuse of a toddler at a creche has been approved by a judge at the Circuit Court in favour of a six-year-old girl.

Between September 2012 and January 2013, the young girl attended the Giraffe Childcare and Early Learning Centre in Stepaside, County Dublin. During her time in the Toddlers Room at the creche, her parents were concerned the girl would cry “No creche. No creche” each morning as they were getting her ready to attend. Their concerns increased when she started showing signs of anxiety and distress.

Her mother discusses her concerns with the carer responsible, and told her the girl was often withdrawn and tired when she was collected from the creche and experienced sleep disturbances at night. The carer told the girl´s mother she was receiving an appropriate level of care under her supervision and there was no reason to be concerned.

However, a few months later, the RTE documentary “A Breach of Trust” showed the same carer abusing children at the creche. The girl´s parents sought legal advice and claimed compensation for the abuse of a toddler at a creche on the grounds she had suffered stress and emotional upset due to the negligence of the creche and the creche´s failure to adequately supervise its staff.

Liability was denied but, in July 2015, an offer to settle the claim for €15,000 without an admission of liability was made. The offer went to the Circuit Court for approval, but was thrown out by Judge James O´Donohue, who said the proposed settlement of compensation for the abuse of a toddler at a creche was inappropriate in relation to the level of injury the girl was alleged to have suffered.

After a period of renegotiation, a new offer of settlement was made – this time for €23,000. Details of the offer and the circumstances of the girl´s injury were related to Mr Justice Raymond Groarke at the Circuit Civil Court earlier this week and – after he was assured there was no serious risk to the young girl´s future psychological development – the judge approved the settlement of compensation for the abuse of a toddler at a creche.

Judge Awards Compensation for Injuries due to a Faulty Sun Roof

Posted on: May 22nd, 2017

A judge at the Circuit Civil Court has awarded a total of €37,500 compensation for injuries due to a faulty sun roof to mother and daughter plaintiffs.

In November 2013, the two plaintiffs were part of a family group driving from Dublin to Newry for a pre-Christmas shopping expedition. As they travelled along the M1 at a speed of 80-90kmph, the sun roof blew off, causing a noise described in court as “a bomb going off in the car”. The driver of the car braked sharply, causing the adult members of the family group to suffer whiplash-type injuries.

The driver of the car – a recently purchased Toyota – and her 72-year-old mother claimed compensation for injuries due to a faulty sun roof. They alleged in their claim against Denis Mahony Limited that the sun roof had been faulty at the time the car was purchased, the fault should have been identified and rectified in a pre-sales inspection, and the undiscovered fault had been attributable to their injuries.

Mahony´s denied the sun roof had been faulty at the time the Toyota was purchased and contested the claims for compensation for injuries due to a faulty sun roof. However, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin last week, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard from an independent car assessor, who found extensive corrosion surrounding the remaining frame of the sun roof. The assessor testified that the corrosion was so bad it would have been apparent in any adequate pre-sales inspection of the vehicle.

Judge Groarke said it was reasonable to expect the car to be fit for purpose, of merchantable quality and free from defects at the time it was purchased. He added that he accepted the sun roof blowing off would have been a terrifying experience understood why the driver had applied the brakes sharply. He found in favour of mother and daughter plaintiffs, and awarded the driver of the car €12,500 compensation for injuries due to a faulty sun roof and her mother – who had suffered a compressed fracture of a vertebrae in the accident – €25,000 compensation.

Air Corps Toxic Exposure Claims made by Former Mechanic

Posted on: May 8th, 2017

A former mechanic has claimed the Defence Forces are not doing enough to protect servicemen and their families from air corps toxic exposure.

The former air corps engineer came forward under a protected disclosure agreement to raise concerns about the physical and psychological wellbeing of servicemen at the Casement Airbase in Baldonnel, County Dublin, due to air corps toxic exposure.

Addressing an assembly of senior Ministers, TDs, senators and members of the Defence Forces, the whistle-blower claimed the unprotected exposure to known carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals was causing servicemen, their partners and their children to suffer illnesses – some of which were fatal.

The whistle-blower alleged exposure to the chemicals had resulted in the alleged untimely death of twenty servicemen. He also claimed that five children had died from cancer-related and birth defect-related illnesses and that many servicemen´s partners were experiencing fertility issues.

The allegations come at a time when the State Claims Agency is already defending six air corps toxic exposure claims made in 2015 and 2016 by former servicemen suffering neurological issues. All six plaintiffs worked in repair and maintenance workshops at the Casement Airbase.

In the servicemen´s favour, a Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspection of the Casement Airbase last October identified health and safety issues related to the air corps toxic exposure claims and “in need of immediate attention”. The HSA threatened to prosecute the Defence Forces if its recommendations were not carried out.

Following the most recent air corps toxic exposure claims, a spokesperson for the Department of Defence told thejournal.ie an independent third party had been appointed to review the allegations and it would be inappropriate to comment before receiving their report. A spokesperson for the Defence Forces would only say: “Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

However, the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces have been criticised by Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh. He told thejournal.ie air corps toxic exposure claims “have largely fallen on deaf ears” since the 1990s. He described the most recent revelations about a lack of health and security at the Casement Airbase “alarming”, and accused junior Justice Minister Paul Kehoe of being indifferent “to the plight of the Defence Forces”.

Birth Defect Claims against Sanofi made in France

Posted on: April 21st, 2017

Parents whose children were exposed to valproic acid in the womb have started making birth defect claims against Sanofi – the French manufacturer of Epilim.

Epilim is the trade name in Ireland for an anti-epilepsy drug (Depakine) introduced into France in the 1960s. Epilim contains sodium valproate and has also been prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, migraine and other chronic pain conditions because of an agent in valproate called GABA that stabilises electrical activity in the brain.

When taken by woman during pregnancy, the sodium valproate is broken down into valproic acid which – when it enters the bloodstream – can have an adverse effect on the health of the unborn child. Children born with “foetal valproate syndrome” have been known to suffer from a range of congenital and development issues including autism and spina bifida.

The risks of foetal valproate syndrome due to taking Epilim during pregnancy were first identified in the 1980s, but the evidence was considered not sufficiently conclusive and was allegedly covered up to prevent “fruitless anxiety”. Sanofi, the manufacturer of Epilim, later informed the medical profession of the risks in 2006 but in a manner that left many medical professionals in the dark.

Only recently has France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM) looked deeper into the birth defect claims against Sanofi, and the agency has just published a report revealing that up to 4,100 children were born between 2007 and 2014 with “severe malformations” due to their mothers having taken the French version of Epilim. Hundreds more died in the womb.

The report has prompted the children´s parents to form a class action making birth defect claims against Sanofi on the grounds that the drug manufacturer failed to adequately advise the medical professional of the risks associated with Epilim or print warnings on the outside of the packets. The French government has also got involved and is discussing a compensation package.

In Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning on the front of the packet, and it is not known how many children have been diagnosed with foetal valproate syndrome due to being exposed to valproic acid in the womb. If a family member has been affected by this issue, and you would like to know more about birth defect claims against Sanofi, please do not hesitate to speak with a solicitor.

Woman Awarded Compensation for a Back Injury due to Falling from a Broken Chair

Posted on: March 3rd, 2017

A woman from Dublin has been awarded €17,500 compensation for a back injury due to falling from a broken chair in one of the capital´s Chinese restaurants.

The woman suffered her injury in May 2014 while dining at the China Kitchen Restaurant in Beaumont. She told Judge Jacqueline Linnane that she had been dining with friends when a leg became detached from the chair she was sitting on, causing it to collapse.

The woman – a thirty-four year old cleaner from Finglas – jolted to her right side to avoid falling onto the floor but, due to her sudden movement, twisted her lower back. Feeling immediate pain, she visited her GP the following day who prescribed painkillers.

As she continued to experience pain in her lower back after working or sitting for a long time, the woman underwent a course of physiotherapy sessions. Although the sessions had some effect, she still continues to suffer intermittent pain across her lumbar region.

The woman claimed compensation for a back injury due to falling from a broken chair against Xwfx Ltd – the registered owner of the China Kitchen Restaurant – alleging that the restaurant had been negligent in providing her with a faulty chair and that the waiter that had come to her assistance after her accident had tried to repair the chair rather than replace it.

Xwfx Limited failed to answer a request from the Injuries Board for the restaurant´s consent to conduct an assessment of the woman´s claim, and subsequently failed to attend a court hearing after the woman had taken her case to court. The case was found in the woman´s favour in default of appearance and proceeded to the Circuit Civil Court for an assessment of damages only.

After hearing the details of the case, how the accident had occurred, and the consequences of the injury to the woman´s quality of life, Judge Linnane awarded her €17,500 compensation for a back injury due to falling from a broken chair.

Boy´s Claim for an Erb´s Palsy Birth Injury Resolved

Posted on: February 20th, 2017

A boy´s claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE has been resolved at the High Court with the approval of a €530,000 compensation settlement.

The six-year-old boy was born via a natural delivery on 22nd March 2010 at Kerry General Hospital despite his mother having requested a birth by Caesarean section because of his size in the womb. During the delivery process, the boy´s shoulder got trapped in the birth canal and he had to be extracted with the assistance of a vacuum cup.

Due to the force applied to free his shoulder, the boy suffered a brachial plexus injury and has since been diagnosed with Erb´s palsy. Due to his birth injury, the boy has a weak right arm that will permanently affect him for the rest of his life. After seeking legal advice, the boy´s father made a claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE on his son´s behalf.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) initially denied liability for the boy´s birth injury but after a period of negotiation agreed to a €530,000 settlement of the claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury without an admission of liability. As the claim had been made on behalf of a child, the proposed settlement had to be approved by a judge to ensure it was in the child´s best interests.

Consequently at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told that the boy had been identified as a big baby two months before his birth and that his mother had requested a Caesarean section delivery on two consultations and again when she was admitted to Kerry General Hospital in labour.

Judge Cross also heard that the boy attends mainstream school, has learned to write with his left hand and is very good at maths. An expert witness testified that the boy is unable to tie shoes or close buttons and will struggle at sports, after which the judge approved the settlement of the boy´s claim for an Erb´s palsy birth injury against the HSE and wished the family well for the future.

Judge Reduces Award of Compensation for a Slip and Fall Injury at Work

Posted on: January 30th, 2017

A High Court judge has reduced an award of compensation for a slip and fall injury at work to account for the injured employee´s contributory negligence.

On 3rd February 2010, the employee – a former maintenance worker at the Templemore sewerage plant in County Tipperary – was working at the now decommissioned plant when he slipped and fell on a path due to sewerage overflowing from the flumes surrounding the inlet channels.

As a result of his accident, the employee suffered frequent headaches and sustained a back injury that prevented him from returning to his job. He applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation for a slip and fall injury at work, but consent to assess the claim was denied by the Templemore Town Council.

The employee was issued with an authorisation by the Injuries Board to pursue his claim in court. A hearing to determine liability and assess damages took place last week at the High Court, where Mr Justice Raymond Fullam heard that the employee worked alone at the time of the accident, and that no safe system of work had been implemented by the council.

The council defended the claim for compensation for a slip and fall injury at work by arguing one of the employee´s duties was to keep the paths clear of hazards and, if he needed additional tools to complete his duties, he should have asked for them. The council contested that the employee´s accident had occurred due to his own lack of care.

Judge Fullam agreed that the employee should take some responsibility for his accident, however he accepted the employee´s evidence that a lot of the time there was an issue with the pumps and he did not have time to clean the paths on a regular basis. Judge Fullam also acknowledged that flumes surrounding the inlet channels were in a bad state on the day of the accident.

The judge said that he would have awarded the plaintiff €79,000 compensation for a slip and fall accident at work, however he was reducing the award by 40% to account for the plaintiff´s contributory negligence. The adjusted settlement of the claim consequently amounted to €47,400.

Judge Declines to Approve Settlement of Injury Compensation for an Accident at Playschool

Posted on: January 25th, 2017

Mr Justice Raymond Groarke has declined to approve a settlement of injury compensation for an accident at playschool and sent the case for a full trial.

The claim for injury compensation for an accident at playschool was made on behalf of a five-year-old girl from Dublin who, in April 2015, was unsupervised when she climbed onto an open wardrobe and broke her right leg when she fell.

The girl was taken to hospital where she had surgery under a general anaesthetic to manipulate her bones back into position. She was discharged from hospital in a leg cast, and subsequently had to wear a walking boot for several weeks.

Through her mother, the girl made a claim against the Larkin Early Education Centre in Ballybough, Dublin. The claim was assessed by the Injuries Board, following which the playschool made an offer of compensation amounting to €31,000.

On the advice of a solicitor, the family rejected the offer of settlement and the case went to the Circuit Civil Court, where Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told the circumstances of the accident and details of the offer.

After hearing that the girl still experiences pain in her right leg as a result of her accident, Judge Groarke agreed that the offer of injury compensation for an accident at playschool was indeed inadequate, and said that the case should be heard in full at a later date to be fixed by the Circuit Court office.

Although the Injuries Board conducted an assessment of the girl´s claim, the offer of injury compensation for an accident at playschool probably did not reflect the true amount of the Injuries Board´s assessment.

According to the Book of Quantum, compensation settlements for a moderate lower leg fracture in which the bones have been displaced range from €40,500 to €70,400. As injuries to the tibia are considered more serious than those to the fibula, the final settlement of injury compensation for an accident at playschool will likely be at the higher end of the range.