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€25,000 Garda Work Injury Compensation Award Approved

Posted: February 19th, 2018

A €25,000 Garda Work Injury compensation award has been approved following a head-butt attacked on a Wexford based Garda who suffered terrible snoring problems.

Sergeant Noel McSweeney experienced the injury to his nose when he was on duty. McSweeney’s snoring disturbed his wife’s sleep and he had to sleep in another room man times.

Barrister Ellen Gleeson told presiding Judge Justice Michael Twomey that, when when the incident occurred in May 2012, Sergeant McSweeney had been working on a missing person search.

Mr McSweeney said that the missing woman had been found in a car where she was intoxicated, possessing drugs and acting aggressively. She was taken into custody following this.

Speaking about the incident Sergeant McSweeney said: “She jumped back and threw her head backwards, hitting me in the nose and upper teeth”. He added that he suffered cuts to four of his upper front teeth and the line of his nose had been damaged. Mr McSweeney also suffered a restriction of the airflow through his nose along with a deviated septum in the assault.

Sergeant McSweeney also admitted that he was not conscious of the problem but did have to sleep in the spare room of his residence due to his snoring problems. He added that he only suffered minimal slight discomfort and, hence, he chose not to have surgery.

Judge Twomey referred to the Book of Quantum in assessing the amount of Garda Accident Compensation to be paid. He approved a compensation award of  €7,500 be paid for the minor dental damage along with €18,000 nose injury damages.

Right to Claim Garda Finger Injury Compensation Ruling is Appealed

Posted: January 26th, 2018

A Garda has appealed a refusal, by the Minister for Justice to allow him pursue a claim for Finger Injury Compensation for a injury he sustained in the line of duty.

Garda Noel Callan suffered a disfigured fingernail injury when a Garda car door slammed shut on his left small finger. He was, at the time of the incident, apprehending a drunk and violent man. His legal team are arguing that the Ministers refusal to allow him pursue a compensation claim as the injury was minor was incorrect and should be overturned.

Counsel for Garda Callan, Richard Kean SC, told the Hight Court that, as per the Garda Compensation Act, a member of the force who suffers an injury in the line of work may claim personal injury compensation through the courts.

Mr Kean argued that, though the injury suffered could not be termed profound or significant, it still should not be termed a minor injury. He added that the Justice Minister’s ruling was not sound and did not adequately take into account the medical reports that were produced at the initial hearing into the case.

The court was told that Garda Callan was also absent from work for the seven days immediately after the incident happened. He is right handed and received treatment on his left hand’s smallest finger.

Mr Callan lacerated his fingernail bed and his fingernail had to be removed. Following this he felt constant pain over the following eight months including a loss of sensation and tenderness when he was driving his car and completing other menial and non-work related duties.

The incident when he (Garda Callan) was on duty at Swords, Co Dublin, on August 26 2011.  Following a drunk man becoming violent, having being arrested in relation to public order offences, he struggled and a car door slammed down on Garda Callan’s left hand inflicting the fingernail injury.

The medical report referred to the fact that the fingernail was now irregular and deformed when it grew back. Garda Callan still suffers continual pain and tenderness, more so during times of colder weather.

The challenge was heard in the High Court last Wednesday. Judgement has been reserved judgment in relation to it.

Garda Awarded €30,000 Workplace Injury Compensation for Injury to Mouth

Posted: December 4th, 2017

Garda Sean Kelly (31) who is due to be wed this coming weekend, has been awarded €30,000 Garda Workplace Injury Compensation following an assaulted where he suffered a severe cut to his mouth.

Garda Kelly told the High Court that he is still sensitive in relation to the laceration on his upper lip and remarked to Mr Justice Bernard Barton he was still paranoid regarding the star-shaped scar. He was still able to find amusement with the presiding judge that he may have to wear some make-up when he gets married to his fiancé next Saturday.

The incident happened while he was at work on January 7 2012. As part of his duties, Garda Kelly had been called to a house in Finglas. Here a man, who had just been released from a psychiatric institution where he had been treated, was threatening to self harm. Garda Kelly was accompanied by two colleagues on the call in question

Garda Kelly told the court that the individual, who had swallowed a lot of non-prescriptive medication, had locked himself in his bathroom. From there he was threatening to throw himself out the bathroom window. Garda Kelly was struck on his mouth with a toilet brush holder, which lacerated his lip, when they tried to apprehend the man.

Garda Kelly had to be rushed to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown to tend to the bleeding. When he was treated, a portion of porcelain was found in his upper lip. X-rays clearly displayed that he had not suffered any major fractures.

He was also given an anaesthetic injection and received seven stitches, a number of them on the inside of his mouth. When the scar later became infected, he had to follows a course of antibiotics until the infection had cleared up. The scar on the exterior of his lip was identifiable at close quarters.

Barrister Derek Ryan, representing the Minister for Public Expenditure, remarked to the High Court that, due to conflicting medical reports, he did not believe Garda Kelly had suffered Post Traumatic Stress to the degree that it would justify an exceptional workplace compensation award.

Healthcare Workers Make Sexual Harassment Against Patients: RTE Report

Posted: November 28th, 2017

Five staff members in the State healthcare system took sexual harassment allegations over the last few years, claiming they were sexually assaulted by service users, according to a report published by RTE in November 2017.

The State Claims Agency has not made public actual details about where the supposed abuse happened in these or any other cases.

The claims relate to incidents that took place between 2012 and 2016 and make up almost half of all sexual harassment claims being taken care by the State Claims Agency on behalf of the State.

The State Claims Agency had, until recently, refused to release any information on these allegations.

There have been appeals from the Fianna Fail political party and the Oireachtas Justice Committee for the State Claims Agency to make available a detailed breakdown of all sexual harassment claims made against separate public sector bodies. This comes after the initial refusal by the State Claims Agency to publish such a breakdown, by employer and sector, of all the sexual harassment allegations which it operates for the State.

Additionally, in November The Oireachtas Justice and Equality Committee wrote to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan asking him to get behind a request for the data to be released to the public. As a result of this the State Claims Agency made available a small amount of information on the amount of claims. However, it did not reveal where the claims came from.

In a statement issued it was revealed that the State Claims Agency has managed 11 claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, which it said was “referable to three State Authorities, inclusive of all Delegated Healthcare Agencies, in the years 2012 to 2016”.

It also revealed that in six of the cases they’ve handled the alleged assailant and victim are both staff members. In the other five cases they said the person believed responsible for the assault was a service user in the healthcare area and the victim was a member of staff.

Compensation Claims Against the State Up by Almost a Fifth

Posted: October 21st, 2017

A recent report issued by the State Claims Agency has shown that there was a rise in the cost of compensation claims taken against the State, bringing the overall cost of these compensation actions to almost €2.2 billion last year.

This is equivalent to 22% increase on the 2016 figures according to the agency responsible for legal actions taken against the State.  The total number of cases encountered throughout 2016 was 8,900 up to the end of the year, up from 6,000 in 2015.

Main Factors Behind the Increase in Compensation Paid Out by the State

  1. The Department of Education settled/paid out legal compensation claims for an estimated €50 million.
  2. €1.9 billion of the €2.2 billion overall State compensation paid out was by Tusla and the Health Service Executive (HSE).
  3. Any individual who is successful in a legal action is now entitled to a higher pay out following a Supreme Court ruling to make up for falling returns on the cash awarded.
  4. The Department of Justice and Defence paid out State compensation claims worth around €175 million compared to €27 million of compensation claims for the Department of Health.

The State Claims Agency, part of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), was established to address the continual increases in compensation actions being made against the State.

Séamus McCarthy Comptroller and Auditor General for the NTMA commented on the increase of 22% saying “The number of claims under management has increased significantly since 2011”.

Sewerage Plant Worker Receives Compensation for Slip and Fall Injury

Posted: September 17th, 2017

A former worker at a sewerage plant has been awarded compensation for a slip and fall injury he suffered at work, after accepting some liability for the accident himself.

In February 2010, an employee at the Templemore sewerage plant in County Tipperary was working when he slipped and fell on a path while at work. A subsequent investigation discovered that the fall was due to sewerage overflowing from the flumes surrounding the inlet channels at the now decommissioned plant.

As a result of his accident, the employee suffered frequent headaches and sustained a back injury. The severity of the injury was such that he was prevented from adequately performing his job at the plant, and thus could not return to work. He sought legal counsel, and applied to the Injuries Board for an assessment of compensation for a slip and fall injury at work. However, the defendants-the party responsible for the sewerage plant, Templemore Town Council-denied consent to assess the claim.

As a result, the former employee of the plant sought authorisation from the Injuries Board to pursue his claim in court. This authorisation was granted, and a hearing to determine liability and assess damages took place last week at the High Court. The case was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Fullam. The judge was informed that the employee worked alone at the time of the accident, and that no safe system of work had been implemented by the council for the workers at the sewerage plant.

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. They further stated that if he needed additional tools to complete his duties, he should have asked for them from his superiors. The council contested that the employee´s accident had occurred due to his own lack of care and negligence, and thus denied all liability.

Judge Fullam agreed with the defendants that the employee was partially responsible for his accident, and therefore he should take some responsibility. However he accepted the employee´s evidence that frequently the pumps in the plant experienced issues, 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.

Lower Back Car Accident Injury Claim Resolved in Court

Posted: June 11th, 2017

The Circuit Civil Court has resolved a lower back car accident injury claim made by a 72-year-old woman who suffered a compression fracture of a vertebrae.

In November 2013, the plaintiff was one of seven family members – five adults and two children – travelling in a recently-purchased Toyota along the M1 from Dublin to Newry. Suddenly – at a speed of around 80Kmph – the sun roof blew off the Toyota, creating a noise described as “like a bomb going off in the car”.

The driver of the car applied the brakes immediately, causing all five adult occupants of the car to suffer whiplash-type injuries. Worst affected by the sudden braking action was the 72-year-old plaintiff, who suffered a compression fracture of a vertebrae in her lower back. The two children – who were strapped into child seats – escaped uninjured.

After receiving treatment for her injuries, the woman made a lower back car accident injury claim against the car supplier – Denis Mahony Limited – from whom the Toyota had been purchased just four months previously. It was alleged in the legal action the car was not fit for purpose, of merchantable quality nor free from defects at the time it had been purchased.

Denis Mahony Limited denied liability for the woman´s injury, and the case went to the Circuit Civil Court, where it heard recently by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. The judge was told by an independent motor assessor that corrosion surrounding the frame of the sun roof that would have been present on the vehicle at the time it was purchased by the family.

The assessor testified that the advanced state of the corrosion had led to the sun roof blowing off and the accident could have been avoided if there had been an adequate pre-sale inspection conducted by the car supplier. Following the assessor´s testimony, Denis Mahony Limited withdrew its defence against the lower back car injury claim, leaving Judge Groarke to assess the amount of compensation due.

He awarded the woman €25,000 compensation in settlement of her lower back car accident injury claim. A second family member, whose claim was being considered at the same hearing, was awarded €12,500. Three other claims – relating to the three other family members injured in the same accident, will now likely be settled without the need for a court hearing.

Former Servicemen Make Claim Against Casement Airbase

Posted: May 19th, 2017

Former servicemen have made claims against the Casement Airbase due to extensive exposure to toxic chemicals at the facility, and the associated damage to their-and their families’-health. 

An online newspaper, the Journal, has published an article stating that a former Air Corps mechanic has made toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase to highlight a lack of health and safety procedures at the facility. The mechanic has claimed that servicemen, their partners and their children have suffered illnesses and development issues due to exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals. He further claims that some people have even died due to exposure to the chemicals at the site.

The “whistle-blower” made the claims under a protected disclosure agreement in an address to Ministers, TDs, senators and a Defence Forces representative. Supporting documentation was provided, which claimed that up to twenty former servicemen may have died due to the exposure to toxic chemicals. Furthermore, the documents claim that five children born to parents who had been exposed to the chemicals were with cancer-related conditions or birth defects.

The former Air Corps mechanic told the assembly: “I have come across several personnel whose wives have had multiple miscarriages both in serving and in retired personnel. In one case, a retired member’s wife had eight miscarriages in succession. I am also aware of three personnel who shared in an office in Casement´s engineering wing whose wives all had a miscarriage in the same six-month timeframe.”

These latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase has been when there six personal injury claims already being made against the Defence Forces by former air corps servicemen. These former servicemen claim they were exposed to high levels of the restricted substance dichloromethane for up to twelve years despite the Defence Forces being aware of the health risks associated with extensive exposure.

Furthermore, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has threatened to prosecute the  Defence Forces. Last year, the HSA conducted an inspection of the working conditions at the Casement Airbase. Among a series of faults at the airbase, inspectors found a failure to conduct basic risk assessments or provide personal protective equipment to personnel working with hazardous substances.

When asked to comment on the latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase, a spokesperson for the Department of Defence told the Journal an independent investigator was reviewing the claims and there would be no comment until the final report was received and studied. A spokesperson for the Defence Forces told the Journal: “Given these matters are subject to litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Girl Receives Compensation for Swimming Pool Accident

Posted: April 13th, 2017

A judge has approved a settlement of compensation made to a young girl after an accident in a swimming pool left her with a visible scar on her face.

While on holiday with her family in August 2012, a young girl went swimming in the pool of the Sol Principe Hotel in Torremolinos on the Costa Del Sol. While swimming, another guest dived into the pool, landing on top of her. The force of the collision pushed her to the bottom of the pool,  causing her chin to collide with the tiles. When she resurfaced, her chin was bleeding rather severely.

The girl received on-site medical attention from hotel staff, and was taken by her family to a local medical clinic.The cut to her chin was cleaned and seristrips were applied to the wound. As a result of the accident, the girl  (who was only eight years old at the time of the incident) suffered pain, distress and discomfort. She was left with a pale scar on her chin, 1 cm in length. The family sought legal counsel, and through her father she claimed compensation for a Spanish swimming pool accident against the hotel and the travel agent through whom the holiday had been booked.

In the claim for compensation for a Spanish swimming pool accident, it was alleged the hotel – and, by association, the travel agent – had been negligent and failed in its breach of duty by failing to take adequate precautions while guests were using the swimming pool. It was also alleged there was a lack of adequate supervision of the fellow guest that had dived into the pool by the hotel staff, and that the hotel should have been aware that more staff on site would have prevented the accident from occurring.

The defendants denied liability, and a full defence was entered against the claim. It was also argued that the case should be heard in Spain, rather than in Ireland, because of the location in which it took place. However, the case was brought to the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Raymond. It was explained that an initial offer of settlement amounting to €5,000 compensation for a Spanish swimming pool accident had been made by the two defendants, without admission of liability.

The offer of settlement was of a value that would be offered to the girl if the family were to successfully bring a claim in Spain. Judge Groarke heard that the offer had been since increased to €12,500 after initially being rejected by the family. Due to continued disputes of liability, the family had agreed to accept the increased offer. As the girl was a minor at the time of the incident, the judge had to approve the settlement of compensation. He stated that, after hearing the circumstances of the case, he was happy to approve the settlement of compensation for a Spanish swimming pool accident.

Woman Receives Compensation for Chair Collapse

Posted: March 14th, 2017

A broken restaurant chair accident claim has been resolved at the Circuit Civil Court in favour of a woman who suffered a soft tissue back injury.

In May 2014, the thirty-four year old woman was dining in the company of her friends at the China Kitchen restaurant in Beaumont. While they were eating, one of the legs of her chair became detached. The chair collapsed beneath her. The woman manged to save herself from impact with the floor, but in doing so she twisted her back in such a way that she felt immediate and intense pain. A waiter saw the incident and came to her assistance. However, rather than find her a safe chair, he tried to repair the broken one.

Due to the tenderness and pain across her lower lumbar region, the woman-who worked as a cleaner-attended her GP and was prescribed painkillers. Although the painkillers helped, she also had to attend physiotherapy sessions. She continued to experience intermittent pain in her back after working in her job as a cleaner or after sitting for long periods. She claimed that the pain she endured severely impacted upon her life.

The woman sought legal counsel, and made a broken restaurant chair accident claim against the owners of the China Kitchen restaurant – Xwfx Limited. The claim alleged that the restaurant had been negligent in providing her with a dangerous chair, and therefore were directly responsible for her injuries.

The owners of the establishment failed to respond to the Injuries Board request for consent to conduct an assessment. They further failed to attend a subsequent court hearing to defend the broken restaurant chair accident claim made against them. The woman consequently obtained a judgement in her favour in default of appearance.

When the broken restaurant chair accident claim was presented to Judge Jacqueline Linnane at the Circuit Civil Court, the judge was told that it was for the assessment of damages only. After hearing details of the woman´s accident and her subsequent injury, Judge Linnane awarded the woman €17,500 in settlement of her broken restaurant accident claim.

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