Tag: wrongful death compensation

Toxic Chemical Exposure Claims at Casement Airbase

The Journal published an article about toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase and the effects chemicals had on servicemen and their families.

According to the article, a former Air Corps mechanic has made toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase to highlight a lack of health and safety procedures. The “whistle-blower” has alleged that servicemen, their partners and their children have suffered illnesses and development issues – and in some cases death – due to exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals.

The claims were made under a protected disclosure agreement in an address to Ministers, TDs, senators and a Defence Forces representative. They were supported by documentation claiming twenty former servicemen may have died due to the exposure to toxic chemicals. Five children born with cancer-related conditions or birth defects are also claimed to have died due to their parents´ exposure.

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.”

The latest toxic chemical exposure claims at Casement Airbase are in addition to six personal injury claims already being made against the Defence Forces by former air corps servicemen. In their claims the 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.

The Defence Forces have also been threatened with prosecution by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) who last year conducted an inspection of the working conditions at Casement Airbase. Among a series of faults at the airbase, inspectors found a failure to conduct 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.”

Sanofi Acknowledges Valproate Birth Defect Claims

The drug manufacturer Sanofi has issued a statement acknowledging the valproate birth defect claims being made against the company in a French class action.

The drug responsible for prompting the valproate birth defects claims is Depakine – an anti-epilepsy drug that has been available in Ireland since 1983 under the trade name Epilim. Epilim contains an active ingredient – sodium valproate – that stabilises electrical activity in the brain and has therefore also been prescribed for bipolar disorder, migraine and other chronic pain conditions.

When taken by pregnant mothers, the risk exists that the sodium valproate will be absorbed as valproic acid in the bloodstream and affect the health of their unborn child. In Ireland, children born after being exposed to valproic acid can suffer from spina bifida, autism and a range of congenital and development issues under the umbrella term “foetal valproate syndrome”.

The risks were first identified in France in the 1980s – where Depakine had been prescribed since 1967 – but no formal announcement was made to the medical profession by Sanofi until 2006. Even then, few medical professionals were aware of the side effects until France´s social affairs inspectorate – IGAS – investigated valproate birth defect claims in the Rhone-Alpes region last year.

IGAS´ research revealed that around 450 babies in the region had been born with congenital defects between 2006 and 2014 after being exposed to valproic acid. The report called for a warning to be printed on the outside of each box of Epilim advising pregnant women not to take the drug, and also promoted a much deeper study of the risks by France’s National Agency for the Safety of Medicines (ANSM).

The results of that study were recently released following an investigation into the health of 8,701 children, born to women known to have taken Depakine while pregnant between 2007 and 2014. The results revealed that up to 4,100 children had been born with “severe malformations” and many hundreds more had died in the womb or been delivered stillborn.

Following the release of the study, Sanofi issued a statement in which the company said: “We are aware of the painful situation confronting the families of children showing difficulties that may have a link with the anti-epileptic treatment of their mother during pregnancy.” However, the statement has not satisfied parents of the children affected by the side effects of Epilim, and they have started a class action of valproate birth defect claims to recover compensation for their children.

In Ireland, Epilim is still sold without a warning in large type on the front of the packet, and it is not known how many children have been born with birth defects due to being exposed to valproic acid. If a member of your family has been affected by this tragic situation, and you would like to know more about valproate birth defect claims, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity.

Judge Approves Settlement of Compensation Claim for a Fatal Accident at Work

Mr Justice Kevin Cross has approved a €500,000 settlement of a compensation claim for a fatal accident at work made by the widow of a man killed in 2008.

Declan Byrne (31) from Ballyhaunis in County Mayo was working on the construction of a gym at the Connacht Sportsground in Galway on 30th April 2008 when the tragic accident happened. Due to the blockwork of the construction being at an advanced stage, Declan had chosen to use a scaffold and bottle jack – rather than a teleporter or a crane – to support a 1.4 tonne steel beam while he realigned it.

When Declan removed the last of the six bolts holding the beam in place, the beam fell on him – causing him to suffer fatal injuries. An investigation into Declan´s death resulted in charges being brought against his employer – CDM Steel Ltd – but the company were acquitted from alleged breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act at a hearing of Galway Circuit Criminal Court in 2013.

At the end of the criminal hearing, Judge Rory McCabe was critical of CDM Steel Ltd for failing to have a construction supervisor on the site and for an “appalling lack of communication” that contributed to Declan´s death. Subsequently, Declan´s widow – Dolores – sought legal advice and made a compensation claim for a fatal accident at work against CDM Steel Ltd and three other defendants.

The defendants denied that their negligence had resulted in Declan´s death and the case was scheduled to be heard at the High Court. However, prior to the case being heard, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed that a settlement of the compensation claim for a fatal accident at work had been agreed amounting to €500,000.

Judge Cross approved the settlement and told the family that, although the settlement of the compensation claim for a fatal accident at work was a good one – and that he was happy to approve it – “nothing can replace what you have lost”.

HSA Releases Details of Workplace Fatalities in Ireland

The Health and Safety Authority has released details of workplace fatalities in Ireland for 2015, with fifty-five employees suffering fatal injuries at work.

Although the number of workplace fatalities in Ireland was the same as in 2014, there were significant changes in the distribution of fatal accidents at work. Fatalities in agriculture accounted for eighteen reported deaths compared to thirty deaths in 2014 and included the deaths of three children who were struck by falling objects or moving vehicles.

Construction workplace fatalities in Ireland increased from eight in 2014 to eleven in 2015 and the fishing industry also saw an increase in fatal accidents from one in 2014 to five in 2015. Two-thirds of work-related deaths occurred in businesses with fewer than ten employees or where the victim was self-employed – mainly in agriculture, construction and fishing.

Twenty-one of the workplace fatalities in Ireland were related to accidents involving moving vehicles, while fifteen employees were killed as a result of a fall from height and thirteen others died as a result of being crushed or trapped by machinery. Of the remaining workplace fatalities in Ireland, the majority were attributable to drowning.

Brian Higgisson – the Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority – said the Authority will be looking for further improvements and reductions in accidents during 2016. He said in a press release: “All work-related deaths are tragic and while we must cautiously welcome the reduction in agriculture fatalities, it is still the most dangerous occupation and that needs to change. There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”

Mr Higgisson continued: “We will continue to direct resources to the high-risk sectors, but health issues such as those caused by exposure to asbestos, dust, noise and manual handling are also major risks in the workplace. These hazards account for more working days lost than injuries and we intend to increase our focus on these topics during 2016.”

Family Awarded Compensation for Fatal Car Accident in Which Son Died

A settlement of compensation for a fatal car accident in which a four-year-old child was killed has been approved after a hearing at Circuit Civil Court in Dublin.

Ciaran Treacy (4) from Portarlington in County Laois was killed in a fatal car accident when his mother´s car was involved in a head-on collision along the Portarlington to Portlaoise Road at Ballymorris.on April 17. Ciaran´s brother Sean (8) and his mother Gillian were also badly injured in the accident – Gillian being confined to a wheelchair as a result of her injuries.

The negligent driver – Finbar O´Rourke – was arrested at the scene of the accident and charged with dangerous driving causing death. Although his case is still to be heard, Ciaran´s father – Ronan – made a claim for compensation for a fatal car accident, to account for the mental distress he and his family had suffered over Ciaran´s death.

The claim was not contested and, at the Civil Circuit Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke awarded the family €35,000 in compensation for a fatal car accident – the maximum which is allowed for mental distress over the loss of a loved one under Civil Liability Act 1961.

The judge heard that the settlement of compensation who be divided between the members of the family; with Ronan and Gillian Treacy each receiving €10,000; €5,000 going to each to Ciaran’s two siblings – brother, Sean, and two-year-old sister Caoimhe – with €1,250 being awarded to each of Ciaran’s maternal grandparents, Noel and Marie Ryan; and €1,250 to each to his paternal grandparents, Patrick and Mary Treacy.

Judge Groarke approved the distribution of compensation for a fatal car accident and awarded Ronan Treacy a further €8,000 towards the cost of Ciaran´s funeral. The judge expressed the court’s deep sympathy to the Treacy family for their tragic loss.

Daughter Successful in Claim for Death due to Exposure to Asbestos

The daughter of a man who died from mesothelioma cancer has successfully made a claim for death due to exposure to asbestos against two companies who previously employed her father.  

In December 2013, seventy-three year old Peter McCormack from Whickham in Tyne and Wear died from mesothelioma cancer – eighteen months after being diagnosed with the disease. Before he passed away, Peter had started a compensation claim for exposure to asbestos against two of his previous employers, and this was carried on by his daughter Elke after his death.

In the claim for death due to exposure to asbestos, it was alleged that the two employers failed to protect Peter from inhaling asbestos dust and fibres in the workplace, and it was due to the employers´ negligence that he developed the disease and died so quickly after it had been diagnosed.

In the claim against EON UK – for whom Peter worked as an apprentice and mechanical fitter – it was claimed that Peter worked alongside laggers who mixed up asbestos without any protection before applying it to pipes and other fittings.

The claim for death due to exposure to asbestos also named OSG Ship Management as being negligent, as Peter had worked as an engineer aboard the company´s ships – repairing pipes that had been lagged with asbestos. It was also alleged that there was asbestos dust on surfaces of the ships which, when disturbed, entered the atmosphere and was inhaled by company´s employees.

After a prolonged period of negotiation, the claim for death due to exposure to asbestos was eventually resolved, with insurers for the two companies agreeing to a six-figure settlement. The settlement will be shared by Elke and her sister Natalie, who said: “Hopefully, this settlement will highlight to employers the need to protect people from exposure to asbestos, so other families do not have to watch their loved ones deteriorate so quickly.”

Elke commented “My dad was always an extremely active man, spending his time mountaineering, walking and cycling, but after his diagnosis his health deteriorated rapidly and was unable to do the things he enjoyed so much. The diagnosis also caused him severe distress and anxiety for his future”.

Compensation for Fatal Farm Accident Agreed before Court Hearing

A family´s claim for compensation for a fatal farm accident was resolved shortly before a hearing into the case was about to commence at the High Court.

Seamus Miley from Dunlavin in County Wicklow – died on May 24th 2007 when a six-tonne dumper truck he was driving on the Ardenode Stud Farm in Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare overturned as it descended a steep hill.

An investigation into the accident found that the roll bar in the dumper truck was defective and should have saved Seamus´ life. Seamus´ widow – Anne – claimed compensation for the fatal farm accident on behalf of her family and a separate compensation claim for nervous shock against Seamus´ employer and several other companies connected with the design and supply of the dumper truck.

The allegations of negligence were denied by each of the defendants, who contested that Seamus had been the architect of his own misfortune by driving the truck at excessive speed. No agreement could be reached on the outcome of the case and it proceeded to court, where it was scheduled to be heard by Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

However, before the court case could get underway, Judge Irvine was told that Anne and the Miley family had agreed to a settlement of compensation for the fatal farm accident amounting to €700,000. Judge Irvine was also informed that Anne had resolved her compensation claim for nervous shock for €100,000. The judge approved the settlements, sympathising that the family had to come to court in such tragic circumstances.

Court Approves Settlement of Compensation for Fatal Car Crash

The High Court has approved a settlement of compensation for a fatal car crash in which a mother-of-five was killed due to the negligence of a New Year´s Eve reveller.

Rose Martin (57) of Carrickakelly in County Monaghan suffered fatal injuries on 31st December 2006, when her husband´s car – in which Rose was a front-seat passenger – was involved in a head-on collision at Philipstown Corner in Killerley with a car driven by Jason Kearney of Dundalk, County Louth.

Rose remained conscious after the collision, and spoke with her husband William and her son David – who suffers from Down Syndrome – while waiting for emergency services to arrive and take the injured family members to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda – where William was treated for a broken leg and David underwent surgery for an abdominal injury.

Rose died in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital eleven days after the accident after which William went into shock. When he recovered, he sought legal advice and made a claim for compensation for a fatal car crash against Kearney – alleging that Kearney had been driving negligently and too fast for the road conditions considering the weather that evening.

Liability for Rose´s death, the injuries to William and David, and the emotional trauma suffered by William after Rose passed away was accepted by Kearney´s insurers, and a settlement of €650,000 compensation for a fatal car crash was negotiated.

Because the claim for compensation concerned a fatal injury, the settlement had to be approved in court before it could be fully resolved; and therefore, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told of the circumstances of the car crash, how Rose Martin had been David´s primary carer for 28 years and the settlement that had been agreed.

The judge approved the settlement of compensation for a fatal car crash and gave the family her sympathy for the terrible experience they had been through and the loss of a wife and mother.

Family Claim Compensation for Lack of Nursing Care after Hospital Death

The family of a 26 year-old woman who drowned in a bath two days after she was admitted to hospital are to make a claim for compensation for a lack of nursing care.

Amy Hauserman had voluntarily entered the psychiatric ward of Frankston Hospital in Melbourne in March 2008 after doctors had feared she was relapsing into a schizophrenic condition from which she had previously suffered with anorexia.

Two days after her admission, Amy was discovered face-down in a bath – having either lapsed into unconsciousness during the bath or having slipped and fallen while trying to get out of it according to Coroner Peter White.

At the inquest into Amy´s death, the Coroner highlighted the fact that the bath had been taken without supervision and, had a nurse been present, there would have been the opportunity to rescue her irrespective of the nature of the accident which led to her drowning.

The Coroner´s report also revealed that no risk evaluation had been conducted before Amy was allowed to take the bath without supervision and her consultant had not been consulted. It was also noted that one of the nurses who worked on the ward at the time gave evidence that she was unaware there was a protocol for patients taking baths.

Following the release of the Coroner´s Report, Frankston Hospital announced it was no longer offer baths to patients in its high dependency psychiatric ward – a move which the Coroner said was an “appropriate response to this tragic episode”.

However, Amy´s father said “these findings confirm ours and the Coroner’s belief that if the hospital had looked after Amy better and showed her the due and proper care she deserved, she would still be with us now.”

He confirmed that the family had already made a compensation claim for the lack of nursing care and that a court date had been arranged in May 2014 for the claim against the Mornington Peninsula Health Service to be heard.

Claim for Loss due to Lack of Hospital Treatment Resolved Out of Court

A family have resolved their claim for loss due to lack of hospital treatment out of court following the death of 69-year-old Eileen Maloney at Mayo General Hospital.

The family made their claim following an investigation into the circumstances of Eileen´s death in February 2009. Eileen had been admitted to the Mayo General Hospital on Sunday 1st February, complaining of an acute abdominal pain, and although an X-ray revealed a small obstruction in her bowel, no review of the x-ray was conducted to check for a perforated bowel.

Eileen – who was suffering from cancer at the time – underwent a CT scan on the following Friday (6th February) which revealed a tumour had developed in her large intestine; but again a perforated bowel was not considered to be the cause of her ongoing pain – allegedly due to a lack of experienced doctors being available – and surgery was not scheduled until the next week (12th February).

Eileen died five days after her operation, and the family claim they were informed that Eileen would have survived the surgery and lived for a further six months had her condition been diagnosed and acted upon correctly. With this information, the family made a claim for loss due to lack of hospital treatment against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The claim for loss due to lack of hospital treatment was initially denied by the HSE but, at the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that an out-of-court settlement had been agreed without admission of liability that would see the family receive €50,000 in compensation for their loss. After hearing the circumstances of Eileen´s death, the judge approved the settlement – extending his sympathies to the family and saying that this was a “very, very tragic case”.

Wrongful Death Compensation for Family of Iraqi Victim

An Iraqi family, whose son was supposedly killed by British Armed Forces in Iraq, has won its fight for wrongful death compensation from the Ministry of Defence.

Saeed Shabram, 18, of Basra, Iraq, had been held by British troops on suspicion of looting in May 2003, and was taken with his cousin, Menem Akaili, into the Shatt al-Arab River by soldiers in an act of “wetting” – an unofficial action intended to humiliate the perpetrators of petty crime in the area.

Bystanders took Menem out of the river, but Saeed´s body disappeared. Saeed´s father employed a diver to search for Saeed and, after a four hour wait, Saeed´s lifeless body was pulled from the river – bloated and covered with bruises.

After seeking legal counsel, the Shabram family sued the Ministry of Defence for wrongful death and just before the case was to be heard in London´s Royal Courts of Justice, lawyers for the family announced that an out-of-court settlement had been agreed.

Without accepting liability for the wrongful death of Saeed, the Ministry of Defence agreed to pay 100,000 pounds to his family and a further unreported sum to Menem.