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Personal Injury

Workplace Steel Girder Accident Results in Woman (52) being Awarded €189,000

Posted: November 1st, 2020

Store supervisor Joann Twomey has been awarded €189,000 damages by the High Court after a workplace accident with her with scar on her leg that she claimed looked like a “shark bite”.

Ms Twomey (52) from Patrick’s Hill, Cork, took the legal action against Jeral Ltd trading as Daybreak, Thomas Davis Street, Blackpool, Cork, and her employers Jeremy and Alice Buckley due to the injuries she sustained in the accident that took place on April 27, 2015.

The accident occured when a steel girder dropped onto the rear of her leg, inflicting her with a 25cm-long laceration to her right calf. M,s Twomey informed the court that she believed there to be a failure to secure the iron bar properly and also that it was not being stored in an adequately safe fashion. She also alleged there the owners of the business had not provided her with a safe place of work.

Judge Justice Charles Meenan was advised that Ms Twomey was taken to Cork University Hospital for medical treatment following the accident. She underwent an operation to suture her leg a few days after the incident. However, following her discharge from hospital she suffered an infection to the wound and was readmitted. Some time later she also underwent a skin graft procedure to clean the scarring the remained.

As liability was admitted in the legal action it was only before court for a final assessment of damages.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan informed the court that he believed Ms Twomey to be an honest and truthful witness and saw no indication that she was attempting to exaggerate her injuries and suffering in any way. Of Ms Twomey’s injuries he said that the scar on the woman’s right calf said it was clearly visible from a distance. However he added that: “On viewing at an angle, there is a clear indent though I do not think it is of the order of a shark bite”.

He added that the woman no longer wears skirts and as a result of the pain does not wear high heels while that the calf scar causes her particular upset and embarrassment when she goes swimming. Justice Meenan said that does not believe that the pain is an invention by Ms Twomey.

he went on to say that she (Ms Twomey) suffers with ongoing sharp pain around the scar tissue shooting or radiating down to her ankle. This has affected her working life and she now has to work reduced hours . He was satisfied that she had established a basis for the court to award compensation for future loss of earnings. It was also taken into account that she has enrolled in a number of post-school that indicate her willingness to ‘remain in employment and acquire new skills’.

In taking all of these factors into account, along with the ongoing consequences of the measures taken to halt the spread of Covid-19 as regards the retail sector, a 40% reduction on the future-loss-of-earnings claim was deemed appropriate, equating to €69,000. In addition to this there was an award of €80,000 damages and special damages, bringing the total to €189,409.

Former Content Moderator File Class Action Suit Against YouTube

Posted: September 22nd, 2020

A woman who was previously employed, on a contract basis, to moderate content on the YouTube video sharing service, has submitted a class action lawsuit in California claiming that the company is in breach of the State’s legislation by failing to put in place a safe working environment and doing its utmost to protect the mental health of content moderators

The woman, who has not been identified in the filing, detailed how the duties involved in the role resulted in her experiencing “severe psychological trauma including depression and symptoms associated with anxiety and PTSD.”

She claims that that YouTube failed to “implement the workplace safety standards it helped create” and required moderators “to work under conditions it knows cause and exacerbate psychological trauma.”

She held the position with after being appointed to the role by staffing agency Collabera. The duration of her employment was from January 2018 to August 2019.  There was no response from YouTube and Collabera when they were asked to common on the allegations included in the class action filing.

The ex-moderator said YouTube made little of the dangers involved int he role during initiation and orientation for the position. Content Moderators who voices worry in relation to the dangers of the position were kept silence via the use of non-disclosure agreements. Prospective employees are informed, prior beginning the job, that they “might be required to review graphic content” that “can have negative mental health impacts.”

It is being alleged that YouTube time and time again refused, when asked, to implement the use of certain features that would have alleviated the stressful associated with the moderator role.

In relation to the provision of “wellness coaches”, people supposedly provided by YouTube to allow for a measure of psychological support it was claimed that they are not always available and are not properly qualified for the position they are holding. Staff are actually informed that they could “not receive any on-site medical care because Wellness Coaches are not medical doctors and cannot diagnose or treat mental health disorders”. She claims that one such coach advised her, in 2018, to “take illegal drugs” to help with the stress.

The class action lawsuit claims that YouTube are to blame for the traumatic experiences and suffering of the YouTube content moderators as the manner of the material that they must review is “abnormally dangerous” and that the video sharing platform is has been engaging in negligent behavior and suppyling “unsafe equipment” for staff to deal with the role.

 

 

Petrol Station Forecourt Accident Compensation of €71,770 Awarded

Posted: August 20th, 2020

A woman who experienced a fall while crossing the garage forecourt holding some groceries has been awarded €71,770 personal injury compensation at the High Court. The woman, Mary Delaney from Kilkenny, broke her two front teeth and fractured her ankle in the accident that occurred when she stubbed her toe on a lip of tarmacadam and fell to the ground. Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon delivered a ruling that the accident would not have taken place but for inadequate workmanship. It was stated that the use of an excessive depth of material in a patched area had led to an uneven surface with a 14 millimetre height difference that represented a tripping hazard to customers. The compensation action was submitted against Circle K Ireland Energy Group Ltd, formerly Topaz in relation to the pain and suffering that she sustained in the incident that took place on May 20, 2017. Ms Delaney informed the court that she was wearing a pair of shoes that had black laces when the fall occurred. The Judge was advised that Ms Delaney’s face was ‘black and blue’ after the fall and she could only consume liquids through a straw for a period of six months due to the extent of her injuries. As a result of the ankle injury she lacks complete freedom of movement and is stricken with a lack of movement. For the broken teeth she had to attend for orthodontic treatment on nine separate occasions to have her ailments addressed. Circle K, the defendant in the court case, counter claimed that the differed in the gradient of the forecourt was actually a gradual rise and not ‘lipped’ as had been alleged. The Judge said that Ms Delaney came across as a credible witness and a ‘a reasonable person’ who did not seek to make more of the injuries in any manner. Judge O’Hanlon said: “It is reasonably foreseeable that a person such as Ms Delaney would suffer such an accident in these circumstances as there was a lack of reasonable care in the reinstatement of the pavement”. Accepting that this was “an acrimonious case”, Ms Justice O’Hanlon granted Circle K’s application for a stay in the event of an appeal as long as €35,000 compensation and legal expensesare paid out to Ms Delaney immediately.

RoundUp Compensation Settlement of $10.9bn Agreed

Posted: June 25th, 2020

On Wednesday German drugs and pesticides producer Bayer, agreed to settle thousands of US-based legal actions taken in connection with users of weedkiller RoundUp developing cancer, for $10.9bn.

This move comes follow year-long extensive talks.

The legal action submitted claimed that RoundUp caused the development of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers in some users. Bayer has always dismissed allegations that RoundUp or its active ingredient glyphosate can lead to the development of cancer. This dismissal was based on numerous independent studies showing that the weedkiller is safe for human use.

When it purchased Monsanto in 2018, Bayer took over responsibility for the claims. This settlement does not include three cases that have already gone to trial. Shareholders in the group gave their approval to how the claims were being handled in April.

Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann released a statement which said: “The Roundup settlement is the right action at the right time for Bayer to bring a long period of uncertainty to an end. It is financially reasonable when viewed against the significant financial risks of continued, multiyear litigation and the related impacts to our reputation and to our business. The decision to resolve the Roundup litigation enables us to focus fully on the critical supply of healthcare and food. It will also return the conversation about the safety and utility of glyphosate-based herbicides to the scientific and regulatory arena and to the full body of science.”

A statement was also released by settlement mediator Ken Feinberg confirming some 25,000 claims remain unsettled. He said: “Bayer wisely decided to settle the litigation rather than roll the dice in American court.”

He added: “I predict all the remaining cases will settle within a few months. People are going to want their share of this settlement.”

$5bn of the settlement must be paid this year and the same figure is due to be transferred to claimants during 2021.

Bayer is believed to be funding the settlement thanks to the the company’s existing free cash flow and the proceeds of the recent sale of its Animal Health portfolio. There were almost 125,000 filed and unfiled claims. The agreed settlement makes up approximately 75% of the claims linked to RoundUp.

 

 

Facebook Content Moderator Seeks Damages due to Disturbing Content Viewed

Posted: December 5th, 2019

A former Facebook content moderator today submitted a legal action to the High Court, which is expected to be followed by more compensation claims for other moderators, due to the psychological trauma he sustained from viewing disturbing and graphic content.

Mr Chris Gray submitted the workplace trauma compensation action, stating that he was expected to view a range of inappropriate content on a daily basis and filter out disturbing content with a 98% accuracy rating. Content that was labelled inappropriate included “various scenes of people dying in different accidents … set to a musical soundtrack. [Gray] had a long argument with the quality point of contact [a senior role] about whether the music meant that the person posting it was ‘celebrating’ or whether it just counted as disturbing content.”

The claimant said that he was traumatized and under an unacceptable amount of stress due to the nature of the content he viewed and his daily work targets. Mr Gray developed He developed difficulty sleeping and said that would regularly wake during the night due to nightmares. He stated: “It took me a year after I left to realise how much I’d been affected by the job. I don’t sleep well, I get in stupid arguments, have trouble focusing.”

Mr Gray, who is being represented by solicitor, Diane Treanor  of Coleman Legal Partners, is likely to be the first of a number of content moderators working with CPL Solutions and Facebook to file a compensation claim due to trauma. Ms Treanor said that content moderators based in Berlin and Barcelona have also contacted her firm with an interest in joining a lawsuit. Mr Gray remarked: “If I can get them better working conditions, better care, then that also improves the quality of the content moderation decisions and the impact on society.”

Facebook released a statement which said: “We are committed to providing support for those that review content for Facebook as we recognise that reviewing certain types of content can sometimes be difficult. Everyone who reviews content for Facebook goes through an in-depth, multi-week training program on our Community Standards and has access to extensive psychological support to ensure their wellbeing. This includes 24/7 on-site support with trained practitioners, an on-call service, and access to private healthcare from the first day of employment. We are also employing technical solutions to limit their exposure to graphic material as much as possible. This is an important issue, and we are committed to getting this right.”

UK-based not-for-profit group Foxglove is supporting the court case and Director Cori Crider said: “The reason we’ve got involved is that we think that social media factory floors are unsafe and need to be cleared up. In a decade we’re going to look back on this as we did at meat packing plants at the turn of the century. Facebook’s only going to pay attention to things when they know that they’ve got a typhoon bearing down on them. What I’d like to see is the moderators realising how much power they have if they just organise. Because let’s face it, social media as we know it could not exist without the labour people like Chris provide.”

 

 

 

Psychological Trauma of Social Media Moderators Highlighted in BBC Documentary

Posted: August 20th, 2019

The possibility of working conditions and duties leading to the psychological trauma of social media moderators has been highlighted in a BBC documentary.

The report detailed the working experience of Shawn Speaglem who worked as a Facebook content moderator for a third party company Cognizant, based in Florida in the United States. Despite have completed a non-disclosure agreement about his time in the role, Shawn opted to disregard this so he could speak out on the pictures and images that workers have to view due to Facebook’s moderation policies and processes.

He said: “One of my first videos that I remember looking at was two teenagers grabbing an iguana by the tail and they smashed it onto the pavement while a third person was recording it. And the iguana was screaming and the kids just would not stop until the iguana was just pasted on the ground. I’ve seen people put fireworks in a dog’s mouth and duct tape it shut. I’ve seen cannibalism videos, I’ve seen terrorism propaganda videos.”

Shawn told the documentary makers that he has suffered great stress, weight gain and depression due to the content he had to view as part of his expected duties. He said: “I felt like I was a zombie in my seat. It really gets to you because I don’t have that bystander syndrome where I’m OK just watching this suffering and not contributing any way to deter it.”

In Ireland, where the European Union headquarters of many social media platforms are located in Dublin, a legal action is being considered on behalf of moderators in relation to their working conditions. Facebook has faced actions similar to this in the past. In September 2018 Selena Scola, a former content moderator with the company submitted a legal action against the company in relation to the mental effects of the work was had to complete. She claimed that the viewing of disturbing images and videos lead to her developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during the time that she was employed at the Facebook headquarters in California. Subsequent to this two more former Facebook content moderators issued similar claims and, as a result, Facebook may now face a class-action lawsuit in relation to this issue.

Continual and repeated exposure to harmful content is an unfortunate side effect of the as part a Moderators role. These side effects can lead to psychological injury and traumatic mental damage to the Moderators over time due to the content that they have to view due to the review and publishing policy of the social media platforms that they work for.

Such trauma can have a great impact depending on the actual content witnessed, the provision and availability of proper support mechanisms from employers to allow staff to deal with work-related trauma and work expectations. The latter refers to the level of work and output required to be completed each day. It is the obligation (duty of care) of the employer to ensure that they provide a safe place of work, a safe system of work and to prevent harm to their employees.

Any content moderators who have suffered due to their working conditions, or required outputs, should look after their own health and seek help as soon as possible. it is also advisable to contact an experienced solicitor to ensure that the company is acting with a duty of care to them.

Garda awarded €975,000 for crush injuries

Posted: July 2nd, 2019

A Co Meath garda whose legs were crushed, when a man rammed him with a stolen car and then drove over his legs in August 2015, has been awarded €975,000 workplace assault compensation by the High Court.

At the time of the incident, Garda Ciaran Murrihy was on duty with three other gardaí when he was deliberately crushed by a stolen car into a garda car vehicle. The incident result in him breaking both of his legs.

Patrick McDonagh, the driver of the stolen car, ,was 26 years old at the time and later later pleaded guilty to having caused serious harm to Garda Murrihy. The outcome of the trial was that he was jailed for seven years in February 2016.

At the High Court Judge Michael Twomey was advised by Barrister Conor E Byrne all parties by consent had agreed on a figure of compensation of €975,000 for Garda Murrihy in relation to the accident and the injuries that he received.

Mr Justice Twomey said that he was both with both parties for reaching agreement on the level of compensation without a full hearing, which he said was always the preferable approach in cases like this.

Garda Murrihy and Garda Lucy Wood, who was also injured in the incident, had been on duty at Clonusk Rise, Hamlet Lane, Balbriggan, on August 2015 when they noticed the stolen Citroen Xsara car that had been stolen earlier that day.

The court was informed that Garda Murrihy – of Macetown, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath – had to roll away to so that his legs were not being repeatedly run over.

Judge Twomey approved the settlement and on the application of Ms Needham directed the release of Garda Murrihy’s medical files.

Garda Murrihy said, in a victim impact statement to the criminal court, that he is still haunted by the vision of McDonagh driving the stolen car directly at him. He told the court that he had gone from being a proud garda and active father-of-two to feeling useless. he said: “McDonagh stole my life from me and has left me with so little”.

 

Garda Injured in Struggle with Prisoner Awarded almost €290k

Posted: June 15th, 2019

A Garda who was injured in a violent struggle with a prisoner has been awarded a €290,000 workplace injury compensation settlement after he sustained a knee injury.

Sergeant Donal Cronin, aged 50, could complete all of his daily work duties due to the knee injury. He also claimed that he was overlooked for a number of promotions due to the injuries. The overall Garda Workplace injury compensation figure awarded to Garda Cronin was €286,630. The incident happened at Limerick Circuit Court on July 9, 2004.

Presiding Judge Justice Bernard Barton was advised that Sergeant Cronin had been successful the examinations required for promotion to the inspector rank with distinction in 2001. Regardless of this was unsuccessful in both rounds of promotion interview board competitions during 2010 and in 2014.

Garda Cronin, the Judge was informed, was appointed to the position of court presenter – a job that he could perform despite the difficulties suffered as a result of his injuries.

Sergeant Cronin’s legal counsel claimed that he was unsuccessful in his bid for promotion on both occasions due to the injuries he sustained. In addition to this the Court was told that Garda Cronin would likely need an operation for a knee replacement in the neat future.

Among those who providing evidence in Court a former chief superintendent who said that the score Sergeant Cronin had reached from the interview board for promotion was excellent but the system was “unfit for purpose” as it did not make take in to account the injuries sustained when an applicant was suffering from a disability.

This claims were argued by a sergeant garda on behalf of the minister for finance and public expenditure. He added that there was no clear thinking to say that the injuries suffered while Garda Cronin was on duty were an obstacle to the promotion to the rank of inspector.

He also said that it was not uncommon for a candidate coming from an administrative post without major operational frontline experience to be given the post of inspector and that said the promotion procedure was heavily policed. The interview board was not given the details of a candidate’s medical records as part of the promotion process – just four of 17 sergeants in the Limerick division were successful in their application for promotion to inspector, two of which were for administrative positions.

A calculated figure for the amount of compensation due to Sergeants Cronin, incorporating future loss of income due to being passed over for promotion of, of €166,630 was submitted to the court.  Justice Bernard Barton awarded him (Garda Cronin) another €120,000 in general damages due to the serious injury to his left knee that lead to physical disability and ongoing pain and discomfort he had to deal with

The Judge told the Court said he was satisfied with the award and said that he felt if Sergeant Cronin reapplied for promotion, his injuries would not block a potential “a successful outcome”.

€150,000 Ryanair Accident Compensation for Girl (8)

Posted: May 30th, 2019

An eight-year-old girl who sustained second-degree scald burns after a cup of hot chocolate fell onto her lap during a Ryanair flight has settled her High Court action for €150,000 flight injury compensation.

At the time of the accident American citizen Sriya Venkata Neti was on board a Ryanair flight which was travelling from Rome to Krakow, Poland accompanied by her parents. When she was taking a sip of the hot chocolate the hot liquid and the paper cup dropped on to her lap.

A medical report submitted to court claimed that the hot liquid pooled on the seat causing significant burning pain and the Sriya’s mother had to remove her from her seat belt and take off her clothing. Her mother said that her daughter’s skin that was burned was gone and blisters were forming in other areas and the child was crying due to the pain.

Now 11 years old Sriya Venkata Neti, who lives in Freemont, California, took the legal action via her father Srinivas Neti against Ryanair in relation to the incident that occurred on the Rome Krakow flight on June 25, 2016. Ryanair refuted all the claims that were made.

Hugh Mohan SC, representing Sriya, advised the court that this was a very unusual incident as, under the Warsaw Convention, if a passenger on an international flight can show that bodily injuries were caused by an accident, an unexpected or unusual event that is outside of the passenger’s control, then the passenger is not required to show negligence or fault as against the airline.

An affidavit submitted to the court by the girl’s father Srinivas Neti informed the court that the scarring has now improved. It went on to say that Sriya has made a good recovery and the condition of her injuries has improved.

In approving the Ryanair compensation settlement Mr Justice Kevin Cross said when Sriya was burned she must have suffered a great deal of pain. He also took in to account that the family now wanted to get on with their lives and to put the incident in the past.

Imprisoned man Awarded €20,000 Bike Accident Compensation

Posted: April 12th, 2019

A convicted burglar, Thomas O’Neill, has been awarded €20,000 bike accident compensation at the High Court after he was involved in a hit and run accident.

47-year-old Mr Thomas O’Neill, who is at this time serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated burglary, told the Judge that that the accident happened on June 18, 2014. Following A day fishing with his son in Swords, he was returning home on his bike when he was knocked off it and hit the ground hard. He commented: “The last thing I remember was feeling the impact and waking up in the ditch on the side of the road.”

Mr O’Neill told the judge that he had been inflicted with a head injury, loss of consciousness for a time and as well as a number of wounds to his face and body. He had refused assistance from a passing taxi driver and made his own way home by bus once he hid his bike in the ditch. He could not recall how his bike subsequently got back to his home. Neither had he any memory of speaking to his Doctor or a nurse who treated him at Beaumont Hospital.

He had gone to the Garda Station to make a statement about the accident. Sergeant Brendan O’Connor informed the Court that Mr O’Neill had been ‘under the influence of an intoxicant’, when he attended the Garda Station to make the statement and was told to return later to complete this. However he had not come back.

Legal counsel for the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI), Joseph McGettigan SC. accused, Mr O’Neill of fabricating the incident.

He said: “I am suggesting to you that for whatever reason, you have decided to concoct a case involving an untraced motorist, in order to get compensation, and you are here today with a story that just doesn’t add up. It is defying all credibility.

“I am suggesting to you that, whatever happened to you that day, you were not involved in a hit-and-run accident, and you decided to bring proceedings against the bureau without going through any normal channels. You never reported this case to the gardaí.”

Replying to this Mr O’Neill said: “I did report it to the guards.”

Mr O’Neill, the Judge was advised, had 20 previous convictions. However, Judge Hanna told the Court that these previous convictions did not mean he was not entitled to seek compensation for injuries in an accident. The Judge said he believed that the plaintiff was ‘not lying’ and was entitled to be awarded €20,000 inbike accident compensation.

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