Claims News

Family of Donegal Man Awarded Six-figure Wrongful Death Compensation Settlement

Posted on: September 2nd, 2019

The family of a Donegal man, who died following an accident that occurred as he was cutting down some tree at a wind farm construction site wind farm, has agreed to a six-figure settlement in relation to the wrongful death legal compensation action that they submitted.

Jonathan Gormley, who was working as a chainsaw operator, died just beforeChristmas  2015. Mr Gormley, the father of two young children, had been cutting down trees at the construction site for the Meenadreen Wind Farm in the Barnesmore area of County Donegal when the unfortunate accident occurred. He was 29-years-old at the time of his death.

The inquest into Mr Gormley’s death was advised hat Mr Gormley was was found with a pine tree lying across his left shoulder. It is estimated that he had not been seen for approximately two and a half hours before a work colleague, Joe Devaney, finally found him in that position.

Mr Devaney informed the official inquest that he had last seen Mr Gormley at approximately 11.30am or 12pm on December 21. It had been an extremely stormy day and Mr Devaney called his (Mr Gormley’s) mobile phone four times between 2.17pm and 2.36pm, but got no answer and became worried about his safety. When found Mr Gormley he was on his knees with his helmet on and a tree lying across on his shoulder. He as unable to find Gormley’s pulse.

After some unsuccessful attempts to remove the tree in question he was given approval to cut the tree. Mr Gormley could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene at the accident. Medical evidence presented at the inquest said the cause of death was traumatic or mechanical asphyxia secondary to compression of the chest as a result of a fallen tree.

Mr Gormley’s partner Mairead Coughlin and his Mr Gormley’s parents submitted the legal action against Viridian Energy Ltd trading as Energia, owners of the wind farm, and Softwood Ireland Ltd as a result of the death of Mr Gormley on December 21, 2015.

It was claimed there was a failure to have an assigned employee to coordinate chainsaw
work and to ensure no chainsaw worker was permitted to be carried out by anyone on their own. It was also claimed Mr Gormley had been been permitted to remove a stand of trees manually using a chainsaw in circumstances where he allegedly should have been provided with the proper mechanical plant and safety equipment.

More claims stated there was a failure to ensure all chainsaw and tree-felling work was not allowed once there were gale force gusts as high as 44 knots. Due to this Mr Gormley had been permitted to work on a
day which was not safe for the type of work i he was trying to complete and when it was dangerous to complete chainsaw work in a stand of allegedly unstable, windblown and haphazard trees.

The claims were refuted by the legal team for the defendants.

After settlement talks between all parties, Michael Cush SC informed the High Court the six-figure sum was a “global settlement figure”. Justice Garrett Simons gave his approval for the settlements of the compensation actions including those in relation to nervous shock over the death of the father of two in Donegal in 2015 and said that it was a satisfactory one.



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