Girl awarded €80k after cutting her knee at funfair

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A young girl who fell and cut her knee as she walked on the boardwalk beside a funfair ride has settled her High Court action for €80,000.

Leah Bonner was 10 years old when she tripped and fell near the waltzer ride at a fairground in Dungloe, Co Donegal.

She suffered a laceration to her knee and the High Court heard on Monday she has been left with a six inch scar.

Leah Bonner, now aged 12, of Gweedore Road, Dungloe, Co Donegal had taken the case through her father, Keith Bonner. She sued the fairground operator, John Ritchie trading as McGurks Funfair, Ballymena, Co Antrim, and David Thompson, trading as JJ and DH Thompson of Glasgow, Scotland which owned the waltzer ride, as a result of the fall two years ago.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to provide any adequate lighting around the waltzer ride and an alleged failure to ensure that wooden slats on the boardwalk did not act as tripping hazards to those using it.

The claims were denied.

Leah’s counsel Declan McHugh BL said on August 5th, 2017 the child tripped on a wooden path and caught her knee on another. She suffered a severe laceration across her left knee and was brought by ambulance to hospital. She was in hospital for five days and had to use crutches for a number of weeks afterwards,

Approving the settlement Mr Justice Garrett Simons said it was an unfortunate incident at a fairground and the girl had been left with a scar.

Controversial landlord now ordered to pay back €22,000

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A landlord who was previously in court for overcrowding a five-bedroom property with up to 70 people has been ordered to pay more than €22,000 in rent arrears and damages.

Christian Carter – younger brother of Cocoa Brown founder Marissa Carter – was ordered by the Residential Tenancies Board to pay €16,000 in rent arrears for a property in Stillorgan Heath.

He was also ordered by the RTB to pay €6,225 in damages due to the condition the property had been left in.

The landlord of the house had been renting it to Mr Carter, who in turn sublet it to a number of foreign nationals. for full story

HSE says sorry over brain-dead mother kept alive for weeks

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HSE says sorry over brain-dead mother kept alive for weeks

Further substantial damages awards are expected to be made early next year in favour of relatives of a pregnant woman who say they were subjected to “a nightmare” after she was kept on a life-support machine despite being clinically brain-dead.

Mother-of-two Natasha Perie (26) was kept alive artificially for four weeks in 2014 because of erroneous concerns that ending life-support would have been in breach of the Eighth Amendment.

The HSE finally apologised yesterday, almost five years after failings in Ms Perie’s care led to a large cerebral cyst on her brain going undiagnosed.

The apology came as the High Court heard claims from six of Ms Perie’s relatives for nervous shock had been settled.

Sources said the sums involved were “substantial”, although the only one publicly disclosed was a €150,000 payment to Ms Perie’s 11-year-old daughter.

Several of Ms Perie’s relatives were in court, including her father Peter, brother Daniel and aunts Mary and Susan.

“While today’s apology brings some closure, and will allow us finally grieve for Natasha, the pain, heartbreak and distress will never go away. Natasha is gone forever,” Peter Perie said afterwards.

The family’s case is not yet over, however, and yesterday’s settlements are expected to be dwarfed when further claims for loss of financial support suffered by Ms Perie’s dependants are due to be assessed in January.

Ultimately the case could end up costing the State several million euro when legal costs are taken into account, but it will be some time before the final figure is known.

Details of the tragic case were first revealed by the Irish Independent in December 2014.

Ms Perie began complaining of severe headaches in September that year.

A failure to diagnose the problem left her brain-dead within days of her admission to the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar on November 27.

She was formally declared brain-dead on December 3, but doctors would not turn off her life-support machine as her foetus still had a heartbeat.

This gave rise to concerns they could be in breach of the Eighth Amendment, since repealed, which gave equal status to the rights of mothers and the unborn.

The family were forced to go to the High Court in a bid to allow her to rest in peace.

A three-judge court ruled on St Stephen’s Day 2014 that the ventilator could be switched off. This would happen the following day.

Approving the €150,000 settlement for Ms Perie’s daughter yesterday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said the High Court had found there had been an erroneous view that there was some obligation to keep Ms Perie alive as a result of the Eighth Amendment.

The court heard Ms Perie’s daughter, then six, had witnessed her in a deteriorating and unrecognisable condition on life support and had been present when it was switched off.

Denis McCullough SC, instructed by solicitor Gillian O’Connor, told the court that Ms Perie’s daughter was horrified when she witnessed the condition her mother was in.

Mr Justice Cross said the child had endured a terrible time and that he hoped when she became an adult she would be comforted by good memories of her mother.

Legal actions were initiated by Ms Perie’s relatives against the HSE in 2016 and the family are known to be upset the case was not settled sooner.

Liability in respect of their main claim, that her death was caused by a failure to diagnose the brain cyst, was admitted only earlier this year.

Mediation was directed by the court earlier this month after the HSE said various family members had to prove they met the criteria for nervous shock.

Nervous shock is a psychiatric injury, beyond emotional grief or distress, suffered as a result of negligence or breach of duty.

In an apology read to the court, Midland Regional Hospital general manager Anita Brennan said she wanted to offer “sincere and deepest sympathy” over Ms Perie’s death in the hospital’s care.

“I would like to convey our sincere apologies to you and your family for the failings in the care provided to Natasha and for the consequential upset, distress and trauma you and your family have endured,” she said.

In a statement on behalf of the family after yesterday’s hearing, Peter Perie said: “Five years ago, my beautiful daughter Natasha was admitted to Mullingar general hospital suffering from severe headaches and was misdiagnosed as suffering from morning sickness.

“She was a 26-year-old pregnant young girl. Sadly, Natasha never came home. She died as a result of a large cerebral cyst that went undiagnosed while in hospital.

“What followed was nothing short of a nightmare.”

Mr Perie said the civil action was his family’s third encounter with the legal system since his daughter’s death.

The application over her life support meant the family had to spend Christmas Eve and St Stephen’s Day in court. Mr Perie said for his two grandchildren Christmas would be “forever associated with the loss of their beloved mum”.

Then there was an inquest in September 2015, which Mr Perie described as “horrendous and distressing”.

The High Court has previously heard the issue of negligence was “hotly contested” at the inquest hearing.

Mr Perie said the family were made to feel like they were on trial and described the open verdict as “unsatisfactory”.

“The facts which the family maintained were correct at the inquest were disputed at the inquest by the HSE but have since been admitted,” he said.

Irish Independent

€10m payout for van crash victim left in wheelchair

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€10m payout for van crash victim left in wheelchair

A young man who suffered a brain injury when he was a passenger in a van driven by a learner driver who had been drinking has settled his High Court action for €10m.

William White was sitting between the front seats and was not wearing a seatbelt when he was thrown out of a window.

It happened as the driver over-corrected on a bend, spun out of control and hit a ditch twice as they travelled home after a night out.

Mr White’s counsel, Thomas Creed SC, told the court his client and the driver of the van, James Lordan, had been drinking and playing pool for about three hours until 1.30am and then headed home in the van along with two others.

The small van struck the ditch twice. The driver and two other passengers emerged unscathed but Mr White suffered a severe head injury, counsel said.

The court was told the settlement reflects that Mr White, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was deemed 45pc at fault and the driver was 55pc to blame.

Mr White was 22 when the accident happened at Inchincurka, Dunmanway, Co Cork, just a few days before Christmas in 2013.

The court heard he cannot talk or walk, needs to use a wheelchair and requires 24-hour care.

Mr White, of Derrinacahara, Dunmanway, through his mother Eleanor White, sued the van’s owner and driver, Lordan (24), of Droumdrastil, Dunmanway, over the accident which happened on December 21, 2013.

It was claimed that Lordan drove too fast and allegedly failed to have any adequate regard to physical features and conditions prevailing at the time and place of the crash.

Mr White was unconscious when admitted to hospital and a CT scan showed multiple haemorrhagic brain contusions. He was in a coma for five weeks.

Four years ago, Lordan pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing serious harm to Mr White and to drink-driving when he appeared before Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Donagh McDonagh, who said the crash had occurred because of a momentary lapse of concentration, fined him €3,500 and disqualified him from driving for four years and three months.

The judge said imprisoning Lordan would achieve nothing by way of punishment or rehabilitation of a defendant, who was remorseful and also suffering the consequences of his actions.

At the time Mr White’s father Michael told the court that his son was in a coma for five weeks after the accident.

“He loved his girlfriend and his life and was very happy. But now his and our lives have changed dramatically as he needs 24-hour-a-day care now and into the future,” his father said.

Yesterday Michael White told the High Court that his son is making progress and his family see changes every six months.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross approved the settlement.

Irish Independent

‘Four-year-old contracted narcolepsy after fears over flu jab had been announced’

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‘Four-year-old contracted narcolepsy after fears over flu jab had been announced’

The next phase of narcolepsy cases involve children who received swine flu jabs in the weeks after concerns were first raised in Scandinavia.

One case involved a four-year-old who received the Pandemrix vaccine in early 2010 – and subsequently developed a very severe form of narcolepsy, spending most of their time sleeping.

Legal experts said the next cases will prove very high profile because the vaccine was administered in Ireland in the weeks after authorities in Sweden and Finland noted a suspected spike in adverse reactions.

The Government has been urged to adopt a less adversarial approach to swine flu vaccine claims following the case of Aoife Bennett (27).

Ms Bennett), who had her narcolepsy action settled by the Department of Health and HSE this week, pleaded for the State to adopt a less adversarial approach.

The young woman said she was totally taken aback by the nature of the State defence to her claim.

She broke down during her cross-examination.

“It was very tough to watch,” she told RTÉ.

Her mother, Mary, said the manner in which her family and the 100 other families pursuing claims were treated represents “a national scandal.

She said their treatment was “exceptionally hostile”.

“It is a national scandal that millions of taxpayers’ money has been wasted in defending [this] case and other similar cases against children and young people who do not have any right to legal aid,” she said.

The State will foot the legal bill with the legal teams for the various State agencies and vaccine manufacturer GSK, which the State indemnified, comprised of 26 solicitors, barristers and senior counsels.

Ms Bennett said the effects of narcolepsy were devastating and she was left feeling “like a sloth.”

“I found myself sneaking up the stairs to go to bed for the day, I had to force myself to come down for Christmas dinner,” she said.

She also has a condition linked to narcolepsy called cataplexy which results in total loss of muscle control.

“Even the slightest bit of emotion, some of your muscles lose control, my eyes might roll, my arms would drop, my knees would buckle and sometimes I’d collapse to the floor,” she said.

Incredibly, Ireland re-issued Pandemrix in 2010/2011 amid fears of a shortfall in the normal winter flu vaccine.

One child who developed narcolepsy received two different Pandemrix jabs in 2009 and 2011.

She received her second jab weeks before the vaccine was recalled after Scandinavian health studies.

A further 100 cases are pending.

The State indemnified GSK to have Pandemrix fast-tracked into use in 2009.

Irish Independent

Woman settles cases over incorrectly reported cervical smear test

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A woman whose cervical smear test was incorrectly reported as negative and who got cancer three years later and had to have a hysterectomy has settled her High Court action.

A cytopathologist had earlier this month apologised in court to the 39-year-old woman, who cannot be identified. She currently does not have cancer but has reviews every three months, the court heard.

She had sued the HSE, Medlab Pathology Ltd and the cytopathologist, Dr Colin Clelland of Haddington, Oxford, England who examined her smear slide taken on April 22nd, 2013 under the Cervical Check screening programme.

In court this week, Dr John O’Mahony SC, for the woman, said the case, which had been at hearing for several days, had been settled.

Counsel said the proceedings against the HSE and MedLab Pathology could be struck out and the settlement was against Dr Clelland. No details of the settlement were provided.

In his apology earlier this month, Dr Clelland conveyed his “sincere and heartfelt apologies” in relation “to an incorrect interpretation” of the woman’s 2013 smear that “caused a delay in the detection of your cancer and for the resulting trauma that you have suffered.”

Adversely affected
He said: “I recognise also your fertility has been adversely affected along with the physical effects of the surgery and the emotional consequences of a cancer diagnosis.”

Dr Clelland also offered deepest sympathy to the woman and wished her well for the future.

At the opening of the case, Dr O’Mahony said the woman had a cervical smear test in 2013. He said there should have been “flashing red lights” but the result came back negative. Three years later, she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a hysterectomy. It was claimed, had it not been for the misreporting of the April 2013 smear, she would not have had to have a hysterectomy and would have conserved her fertility.

“Her intention was to have a family, she is family-focused. It was her desire to have children. She looked forward to being a mother, she is saddened by this,” Dr O’Mahony said.

Were it not for the misreporting of the 2013 smear, she “would not have lost out as badly as she did”, he said. The woman does not currently have cancer but she is “”not out of the woods” and has reviews every three months, he said.

She has also been left with a chronic condition which causes swelling in her body, he added.

Liability was conceded in the case and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Rape victim anonymity comes under spotlight after court ruling

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Last May the Central Criminal Court handed down a seven-year prison sentence to a man who had turned the life of a Wicklow schoolgirl into a living nightmare. Sentencing the 49-year-old man, Justice Michael White said it was the cause of some embarrassment to the court that it had taken so many trials for her to get justice.

It had taken three trials and a trip to the Supreme Court before a jury was allowed to reach a verdict. Last March it found him guilty of repeatedly raping and molesting the then nine-year-old child in the late 1980s.

At a sentence hearing last May, the rape survivor told the court of how the abuse had affected every aspect of her life. She explained that when a garda detective who was investigating allegations around her abuser contacted her in 2013, she had to think long and hard about “going back” there.

She said she always wished she had done something about bringing her abuser to justice. What she did not realise in May was that her six-year fight to have her abuser face justice still had one hurdle to cross.

That afternoon she telephoned this journalist to check that the press would be publishing the name of her rapist. Her main motive in taking the case was to identify him to help any other child victims and protect future potential targets.

What followed that phone call shines a dim light on the approach the DPP and the judiciary have increasingly taken to the role of the press in reporting on these types of cases.

The woman was in court when Justice White continued an order made during the trial preventing the publication of the identity of the man because of his connection to the victim. At the request of the DPP he ordered that neither the identity of the man or his victim can be published.

The woman has told this reporter that she was not consulted about her wishes and did not realise how this order would affect her.

Court order
The court order meant that when the woman contacted the press indicating she wanted to waive her anonymity so her abuser could be identified, the press could not report the case according to her wishes. To do so would be in breach of a court order.

The press notified the court, and was informed that the DPP would need to bring the matter back to court.

In fact the judge’s gagging order was completely unnecessary, both in this case and many other cases where the DPP and courts have sought to tell the press what they can publish. There are already very strong laws, set down by the Oireachtas, which restrict reporting and protect victims as well as men accused of rape but not convicted.

The late and often controversial Justice Paul Carney was known to dismiss lawyers who raised concerns about reportage of sexual offending with a confident assertion that the media knew its responsibilities and knew what it would face if it got it wrong.

At the case’s next hearing the man’s lawyers made the argument that there was no legal basis for any rape victim to waive their anonymity, which seemed to take the court by surprise.

As it turned out Justice White ruled on Thursday the defence had no case, and its interpretation of the law was incorrect.

That means this judgment will not have any adverse effects on sexual assault victims who wish to waive anonymity in order to name their abusers. However, the judge called for the DPP to clarify the victim’s wishes before they leave the court room in any future case.

In the main, prosecution lawyers in such cases are usually extremely helpful to the press in clarifying the victim’s wishes in court. It just didn’t happen in this case.

Procedural decision
Justice White said that because the request in this case to roll back his gagging order came a week after the sentencing had concluded the court has no jurisdiction anymore in the matter. He described this as a “procedural decision”.

Yet some legal sources have said his decision could be open to challenge, and it is possible that the DPP may seek to appeal this ruling. One senior barrister said that the request was ancillary to the sentence, and therefore it could arguably be open to variance and that other judges might take this view.

There is no doubt that senior staff at the DPP will be taking a long hard read of the decision.

Boy (2) who cut eye off sharp object on pharmacy shelf awarded €22k

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Boy (2) who cut eye off sharp object on pharmacy shelf awarded €22k

A two-year-old child who cut his right eye off a sharp object on a shelf in a Co Dublin pharmacy has been awarded damages of €22,000 in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge John O’ Connor heard that Ross Pickering of Merrion Park, South Hill Avenue, Blackrock, Co Dublin, had been shopping in Bradley’s Chemist with his mother on 14th July, 2014, when the accident occurred.

Barrister Samantha Cruess- Callaghan, counsel for Ross, who sued through his mother Marie-Claire Greenan, said the child had bent down to pick something up off the floor and that when he had stood up he caught the underside of his right eye on a sharp item located on a La Roche Posay display shelf.

Ms Cruess-Callaghan, who appeared with Coleman Legal Partners Solicitors, told the court that following the incident, Ross had been taken to the Emergency Department of Crumlin Hospital and had been seen by the doctor on duty.

She said it had been noted that Ross, who sued Siofra Limited and L’oreal (Uk) Limited trading as La Roche Posay, had a laceration to his right upper eyelid measuring approximately three centimetres. Counsel said the wound had been superficial and that it had been cleaned using an anti-septic technique.

The court heard from Ms Cruess-Callaghan that the child had been reviewed two weeks later when his steri-strips had been removed. She said there had been no bleeding or signs of infection to Ross’s injury.

Counsel said Ross’s wound had healed well. She said the child’s mother had been informed that if there had been any concerns nine months post-accident, then Ross could seek advice from a plastic surgeon.

Ms Cruess-Callaghan told the court the child had been reviewed by a Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon one year after the accident in July, 2015.

She said the surgeon had noted that Ross had a scar measuring 1cm by 3mm above his right eye. The surgeon had said the scar had been slightly red in colour and visible from a conversational distance.

His opinion had been that the scar had still been immature and would continue to heal in the next 18 months when it would become white in colour.

Counsel told the court that the surgeon had been correct in his opinion and that the scar had become less visible overtime and that it is now barely visible.

She said it was her opinion that €22,000 represented the value of Ross’s case before recommending it to the court.

Judge O’ Connor approved the offer from Siofra Limited and L’oreal (Uk) Limited trading as La Roche Posay (third party).

Irish Independent

Girl (10) who suffered fracture when radiator fell on her foot awarded €56k

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Girl (10) who suffered fracture when radiator fell on her foot awarded €56k

A 10-year-old girl, who suffered a fracture to her left foot when a heavy radiator fell off the wall in her school, has been awarded just over €56,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Barrister Eileen McAuley, counsel for Keira Kuts, of Carlough Road, Cabra, Dublin 7, told Judge John O’Connor the accident had happened in October 2016 when the girl was only seven.

Ms McAuley, who appeared with Synnott Lawline Solicitors, for Keira said she had been with her class in the library of St Catherine’s Senior School, Cabra, when the heavy iron radiator had come away from the wall and struck Keira on the foot.

Counsel said Keira, who sued through her father Roman Kuts, had been immediately taken by car to the accident and emergency department of Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Her foot had been x-rayed and it had been found that a metatarsal bone in her foot had been fractured.

She had been put in a cast for four weeks and then had to use a boot for another four weeks. Her foot had been found to be entirely normal when reviewed last year.

Ms McAuley said the fracture had fully healed and doctors were entirely satisfied there would be no long term effects.

Judge O’Connor approved a settlement offer of €55,000 together with €1,168 special damages.

Irish Independent

Surgeon tells court injuries in low-impact crashes are a ‘social disease’

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Surgeon tells court injuries in low-impact crashes are a ‘social disease’

A consultant orthopaedic surgeon has said people involved in low-impact accidents expected to have an injury whether they had one or not.

Garry Fenelon told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that in his view such “injuries” had become a social disease.

Mr Fenelon was giving evidence in a case involving young Peamount soccer star Lauren Keeler.

In awarding the 20-year-old €11,350 damages for back and neck injuries, Judge John O’Connor said he did not believe her injuries were still ongoing following the January 2016 accident when she was a sixth-year student.

He heard she was an up-and-coming and promising young footballer and had seen a video of her scoring a goal for her team shortly after the accident.

He was told she had undergone physiotherapy both before and after the match in which she had scored.

Judge O’Connor told Ms Keeler’s barrister, Mark J Byrne, that although the incident had been a very low-impact one, he was satisfied an accident had occurred and that Ms Keeler had been injured.

The court had been told that Ms Keeler, of Cleggan Avenue, Ballyfermot, Dublin, had been a front-seat passenger in her mother’s car on January 22, 2016, when it was rear-ended at Station Road, Clondalkin, Dublin.

Ms Keeler, who claimed her football training and playing had been put on hold for a period after the accident, had sued Axa-insured Mark Sheridan, the owner of the car that had rear-ended her.

She had undergone an MRI scan of her lumbar spine, which had proved normal, and had afterwards been treated by way of a lumbar spinal rehabilitation therapy programme comprised of physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.

Judge O’Connor refused an application by counsel for Axa to dismiss Ms Keeler’s claim should the court consider that she had given false evidence.

The judge said he did not believe Ms Keeler had given false evidence to the court.

During the hearing, Mr Fenelon, who had been called by Axa to give evidence, said Ms Keeler had suffered a soft-tissue strain to her lower back in January 2016.

He said it was difficult to account for her claim that she still had ongoing symptoms almost three years after the accident.

Whatever ongoing complaints she might have were not in his view related to the 2016 road traffic accident, the court heard.

He said people involved in low-impact accidents expected to have an injury whether they had or had not. In his view, such “injuries” had become a social disease.

Irish Independent