Former Employee Receives Compensation for Back Injury Caused by Improper Training

A former employee of the Moyvalley meat factory has received compensation for a back injury he sustained as a result of not receiving proper training for his job.

In January 2011, Mohammed Ali Saleh of Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, was employed by the Moyvalley meat factory, situated in Kildare. Mohammed experienced extreme back pain while he was working at the factory’s pluck station, and sought medical attention. Medical staff discovered that he suffered from a prolapse disk. Mohammed-who had a history of back problems-underwent an MRI scan of the region. This revealed that Mohammed required immediate and urgent decompression.

Two operations were performed on the factory worker’s back, but in spite of these actions, he was diagnosed with failed back syndrome. He is now dependant on crutches as a means of supporting himself. Mohammed sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for an injury caused by inadequate training.

In his action, he claimed that Moyvalley Meats Ireland Limited had never shown him how to perform the plucking process without having to engage in the twisting manoeuvre, which was identified as the reason for the prolapsed disc.

The defendants denied liability for Mohammed’s injury. They claimed that he had been given on-the-job training, and that his back injury was the result of a pre-existing condition. There was no agreement made to the claim for compensation, and the case was brought to the High Court.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard the case at court. An expert witness testified that Mohammed’s training consisted of having him watch a fellow employee work on the pluck station, and Mohammed did not partake in the action. He further stated that no safe system of work had been implemented that could avoid the twisting manoeuvre. He concluded that the training Mohammed had received was inadequate for him to safely perform the job.

The case was found to be in Mohammed’s favour. The judge stated that his employers had been in breach of statutory duty in failing to train him in what should have been the correct posture to avoid unnecessary back strain. The judge awarded Mohammed €415,000 in compensation for an injury caused by inadequate training to account for his pain and suffering, and any loss of income.

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Flight Attendant’s Case Against Aer Lingus Heard at High Court

A flight attendant who made an injury claim as a result of a rough landing at Dublin Airport is facing her employers Aer Lingus at the High Court in Dublin.

In November 2009, Cassandra Reddin of Ratoath, Co. Meath, was employed as a flight attendant for Aer Lingus. During flight EI582 from Malaga to Dublin, the Airbus 320 on which she was working started swaying from side-to-side as it approached Dublin Airport. Upon landing, it bounced three times before eventually stopping much further down the runway than would be typically expected.

Cassandra informed Mr Justice Michael Hanna that the rough landing had caused her emotional shock, and resulted in her going home from work and experiencing extreme distress; she was rendered tearful for the whole evening. Cassandra also sought medical attention for soft tissue neck and back injuries, akin to what would be expected from whiplash. Cassandra sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for injuries sustained during a landing at Dublin Airport against her employer, Aer Lingus.

The rough landing had caused luggage in the overhead storage departments to open, and for items to fall on top of passengers. According to Cassandra’s testimony, several people on board the plane are screaming with fear. “Safety documents shot out of their pockets; duty free broke in the overhead baggage and alcohol leaked into the cabin. There was a degree of chaos and stress on board,” she told the High Court during the testimony. She further claimed that the rate of descent into the airport was three or four times the normal safe limit.

The defendants denied liability for Cassandra’s injuries, stating that the co-pilot had not been negligent in failing to adequately supervise the landing of the plane. Consequently, when Cassandra applied to the Injuries Board for compensation for injuries during a landing, Aer Lingus refused to give its consent for the assessment to proceed.

The hearing at the Four Courts continues later on this week.

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Employee’s Claim Against Irish Rail Settled in Out-of-Court Agreement

An employee who suffered from back and shoulder pain after changing the sign on a DART has settled his claim against Irish Rail in an out-of-court agreement.

In February 2012, Padraic Reddin of Donaghmede, Dublin, was working as an electrician for Irish Rail. As a part of his job, he was assigned the task of changing a front destination school on a DART train. As he was lifting the scroll, preparing it to be fitted, he felt a sharp pain across his shoulders and upper abdomen. He ceased working and rested before resuming his job later that day.

However, Padraic’s pain did not stop, and started to interfere with his everyday activities. He suffered difficulty sleeping, and at one stage he felt discomfort in his shoulder while he was making a cup of tea. In spite of visiting his GP for treatment of the pain, his troubles continued for several months.

Padraic reported his injury to one of his superiors. However, as it had been two weeks since the accident when Padraic finally reported the injury, the superior refused to complete an accident report form.

Padraic sought legal counsel, and made a claim against Iarnrod Éireann for a shoulder injury and applied to the Injuries Board for assessment of his claim. The defendants refused to consent to this assessment, causing the Injuries Board to issue Padraic with authorisation to pursue his claim for compensation through the court system.

Earlier this week, the hearing to establish liability for Padraic’s injuries took place at the Circuit Civil Court by Mr Jusitce Raymond Groarke. At the hearing, the judge was informed that the scroll which Padraic was carrying weighed approximately 10kg, and was to be lifted 2 metres above the ground.

The plaintiffs argued that the scroll should have been lifted by two employees to avoid any possible risk of injuries. Before any further evidence could be presented to the judge, the parties requested a brief adjournment. When the court met again, Judge Groarke was informed that the claim against the travel company for a workplace injury had been settled for an undisclosed amount. The case was struck from court records.

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Recycling Plant Fined £15,000 After Worker Involved in Machinery Accident

Rotherham Magistrates have issued a fine of £15,000 for health and safety violations to a recycling plant after one of its workers was involved in a serious accident with one of its pieces of machinery, sustaining serious damage to his arm.

In December 2013, Ryan Jackson (25) from South Yorkshire was working alone in the metal recycling plant. Ryan had only been recently employed by the plant when the machine he was working on stopped suddenly. Ryan investigated the cause of this, and found that there was something blocking the machinery. He attempted to remove the cause this blockage, not realising that the machine would start to function immediately after it was cleared.

As a result of this oversight, Ryan’s arm was caught by the cutting mechanism, and he suffered severe injuries to the area including a cracked shoulder blade, a shredded radial nerve and three different breakages to his arm. He was immediately escorted to hospital where his injuries were treated.

Ryan had to have a nerve removed from his calf and implanted into his shoulder to replace the one that had been destroyed by the machine. He was unable to use his broken arm for several months after the accident occurred. Ryan is still on a course of pain medication to help him with the pain he endures from the accident.

An investigation was launched, and it was revealed there had been a failure to replace a guard that had been placed over the tail drum after it was removed. The absence of emergency stop button near the area of the machine that had been blocked was also noted. The report concluded that the guarding that had been around the conveyor belt leading into the cutting mechanism was inadequate. Therefore, the area in which Ryan was working was not compliant with health and safety standards.

The Health and Safety Executive charged the owners of the recycling plant for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Magistrates at Rotherham Magistrates Court were informed that the plant had no management system to ensure that the guards were in place, nor to check if suitable safety procedures were being followed. The lack of management system also meant that emergency equipment such as emergency stops or pull cords were not checked for functionality.

It brought to the attention of the magistrates that C F Booth Ltd, the owners of the plant, had been previously advised by the Health and Safety Executive in May 2013 regarding the guards of the end drums on other conveyor belts of the site.

The owners of the plant admitted that they had violated safety procedure. Such a breach was the cause of Ryan’s accident and resulting injuries. In addition to the £15,000 fine, they were required to pay costs of £1,595.

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Health Service Medical Claims Nearly Double Since 2010

Figures released by the State Claims Agency indicated that, in the past five years, medical negligence claims against the HSE have nearly doubled.

The State Claims Agency have recently reported that last year, just under a thousand service medical negligence claims had been made against the HSE in the High Court. This figure is nearly double that reported in 2010. On top of these numbers, the State Claims Agency has to deal with more than 3,000 previous claims dating back from before 2014, and another 218 claims that have already been lodged this year.

However, these 936 health service medical negligence claims fails to include claims made in both the District and Circuit Courts. It also does not address public liability claims for accidents to visitors to hospitals, nor employer liability claims when employees are involved in accidents in Irish hospitals.

The number of claims is expected to rise even further following the Hiqa report into failings at the Portlaoise Hospital, and several high-profile cases involving Irish maternity care. The report caused the chief of the HSE-Tony O’ Brien- to call for a “clear-out of uncompassionate staff”. However, Leo Varadkar, current Health Minister, states that the “wall of silence” is responsible for the huge increase in the number of claims.

Leo Varadkar has previously criticised an “open disclosure” initiative in the HSE and State Claims Agency, first implemented in 2013. According to Varadkar, the initiative was failing to work, as hospital managers were neglecting to fully engage with patients who claimed to have had negative experiences while at hospital. In order to receive answers to their queries about what went wrong with their procedures, they are forced to go to court, due to this lack of engagement.

“When something goes wrong, it’s OK to say that you’re sorry about what happened”, Minister Varadkar said to the press. “It does not mean you’re accepting liability. There is a never a good reason to conceal the truth from a patient or their family once the facts are known. Aside from making sense from a human point of view, it’s the right thing to do financially”

The Department of Health is currently writing legislation to reinforce the open disclosure policy among Irish hospitals. This is hoped to help healthcare professionals engage with their patients, passing on vital information to them, without prejudicing future health service medical negligence claims.

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Injuries Board Review Reveals that Number of Compensation Claims Remain Steady

The Injuries Board has recently released figures in its annual review indicating that the number of claims it received in 2014 remained roughly steady.

During the year, 31,576 claims for compensation were made to the Injuries Board, resulting in 12,420 (39%) assessments being accepted. The total value of awards granted was €281.2 million. In comparison to the previous year, 31,211 claims were made, of which 10,656 (34%) were accepted. In 2013, €243.5 million was granted in total as injury compensation.

In 2014, the higher acceptance rate was due to a large number of claims for compensation being put forward to the Injuries Board in the final few weeks of 2013 which were not resolved until 2014. The organisation’s report also stated that there had been a decrease in the amount of time needed to process and resolve a claim between the two years.

Despite the increase in the average value of a claim for an injury at work (rising from €28,886 to €32,134), there was a slight decrease overall in the average assessment of an injury claim (€22,642 from €22,847). The report also showed that the largest single assessment was for an employer liability claim, at a value of €972,898.

The Chief Executive of the Injuries Board-Patricia Byron-commented on the company’s annual report, stating: “While the volume of new claims stabilised last year, the increase in the number of awards made by the Board is a clear indication that more respondents, typically insurers, are opting to engage with our low cost claims resolution service and recognise the real value of avoiding unnecessary and costly litigation where uncontested claims are concerned”.”

Ms Byron continued: “2014 was an important year for us as we marked a decade in operation. As a result of our journey, personal injury compensation is now delivered in 7 months and at a processing cost of 6.7%, compared to almost 3 years and a cost of 58% for litigated claims. With over €1 billion in savings delivered to date and a ten year track record behind us, the benefits of non-adversarial claims resolution are unequivocal.”

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Compensation Awarded to Ex-Firefighter for Fall Injuries

An ex-firefighter has received compensation for injuries he sustained while taking part in a training exercise during which a ladder snapped, causing injuries that ended his career.

In May 2011, Michael Hollings (46) of West Yorkshire was partaking in a training course in Ilkley Fire Station. Michael had been working as a fireman for eight years at the time of the training course. While participating in various training exercises, a 13.5 metre ladder that he was climbing with two of his fellow firefighters snapped. Michael, who was high up the ladder, was attached to it with an “improvised chest harness”.

When the ladder fell, the force of it hitting a solid fence caused communicated fractures in both of Michael’s forearms, and dislocated both of his elbows. Michael’s right foot was also broken on impact. The emergency services were notified, and Michael was transported to hospital, where he was also diagnosed with a concussion.

Michael had to undergo two operations on each of his arms, and was forced to wear a metal brace for several months following the incident. He still attends physiotherapy twice a week to help his arms recover, but he has been informed by medical professionals that he may never recover full use of either arm. As a consequence of his injuries, he was forced to give up his career as a firefighter. He also had to quit his part-time job as a HGV driver.

Michael sought legal advice from the Fire Brigade Union, and claimed injury compensation for his fall. He alleged that the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services (WYFRS) had supplied a ladder that was not fit for the purpose of the training exercise. The defendants accepted liability for the claim, and offered an interim settlement of compensation so that Michael could buy an automatic car and pay for his physiotherapy sessions.

An investigation into Michael’s future needs was conducted, and a final six-figure settlement of compensation was agreed upon. Michael stated that he was grateful to the Fire Brigade Union for its support during the ordeal, and it was still not clear why the ladder snapped during the exercise.

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Paraplegic Awarded Compensation for Theatre Fall

Compensation has been awarded to a woman who fell through an open stage door in a dark theatre, leaving her paraplegic.

In June 2012, Rachael Presdee (38) was working as a stage manager for a production of “Boy’s”, run by the Headlong Theatre Company is the Soho Theatre in London’s West End. While she was working one night, she arrived to the theatre to find that all of the lights were off. In an attempt to locate a theatre employee to turn the lights back on, she ascended a spiral staircase backstage. As she walked through a black curtain-which she believed to be a light blocker-she fell through an open backstage door and landed on the open stage, three metres below her.

The emergency services were notified, and Rachael was immediately rushed to hospital. She was diagnosed with spinal injuries, and she remained in hospital for six months receiving treatment for her injuries. When she was discharged, she was confirmed as a paraplegic, and now must remain in a wheelchair for life.

Rachael sought legal advice, and made a claim for compensation for a fall from a stage against the Headlong Theatre Company and the Soho Theatre. Both defendants admitted liability, and they negotiated £3.7 million in compensation to be awarded to Rachel. The HSE also persecuted the Soho Theatre for health and safety violations, ordering them to pay a total of £30,000.

Following the proceedings, Rachael expressed her gratitude to the actor’s union Equity. She urged all theatre operators to take the proper precautions to ensure that nobody else would suffer injuries similar to her own. She expressed regret at the fact that her own accident could have been avoided in “simple, cheap and obvious steps”.

In a statement released by management, the Soho Theatre has also expressed their regret at the accident. They stated: “we have done as much as we can to ensure that Rachael received the best possible care after the accident”. They also expressed relief at the fact that to claim for compensation has finally been settled.

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Asbestos to Blame for Elderly Man’s Cancer

Asbestos have been found to be the cause of the death of a sixty-five year old man, after he was exposed to the cancer-causing material as a teenager.

In September 2013, Charlie Glass (65 at the time) died at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin of mesothelioma cancer. He had been diagnosed with the disease in 2009, after receiving a CT scan. Charlie had fallen at work and injured his ribs, attending a VHI Swiftcare Clinic for treatment. X-rays were taken, which revealed more fluid on his lungs than what would have been expected. The fluid was drained, and the CT scan was taken-detecting the cancer.

Charlie required radical intervention, and was flown to London to receive chemotherapy and undergo surgery. After treatment, he returned home to Ireland and had several years of good health before the cancer eventually returned.

While being consulted on his cancer, Charlie was made aware of a link between exposure to asbestos and the type of cancer that he had. Aged 14 years old, Charlie was employed cutting asbestos sheets for use in fire doors for Brook Thomas Building Supplies. No protective clothing was provided for the workforce, and they often ate their lunches in the area where the asbestos was being stored. In the 1960s, when the work was being carried out, there was little public knowledge of the risk of exposure to asbestos.

The Dublin Coroner investigating the death-Dr Brian Farrell-was told at the inquest that when Charlie was initially diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he could possibly only have eleven months to live. In spite of this, he survived four more years. Dr Farrell was also told that both of Charlie’s siblings had previously died to asbestos related cancers, but had been exposed to the material in different incidents.

An autopsy of Charlie’s body was conducted, revealing “numerous asbestos bodies were identified in the lungs”. This confirmed the diagnoses of disseminated mesothelioma that had been given to Charlie. Dr Farrell returned the verdict that Charlie had died due to the asbestos related cancer, further commenting that it was an unfortunate coincidence that all three of the siblings had died from such a rare disease.

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Actress Receives Undisclosed Sum as Whiplash Compensation

A former actress has settled a claim for compensation for whiplash injuries against her former employers for an undisclosed sum.

In November 2008, Rebecca Smith of Killiney, County Dublin, made a whiplash injury claim against RTE after claiming that the had sustained soft tissue injuries while filming a scene for “Fair City”. Rebecca-who played the character of Annette Daly-was filming a scene while in the passenger seat of a car being operated by a stuntman.

As a part of the scene-being filmed in the Mount Merrion Area-the stuntman was required to brake sharply on several occasions. This jolting movement caused Rebecca to be thrown backwards and forwards in her seat while filming the driving sequence. Rebecca claimed that immediately after the scene finished shooting, she felt pain in her neck and upper back.

The actress was transported to the nearest VHI Swiftcare Clinic. The pain eventually migrated down from her neck and back to her right arm and her fingers. Rebecca claims that she had trouble moving her neck for a week after the incident, and couldn’t sleep because of the discomfort and tingling feeling in her right arm and pain in her neck. She claimed that due to the extent of her injuries, she was prevented form working for a week.

Rebecca sought legal advice, and made a claim for whiplash injuries against her employer, RTE. She alleged that they had been negligent by failing to use a stunt double for her to film the sequence, thus failing to ensure her safety. RTE denied the claim, and as a result of the contested liability, Rebecca sought authorisation for the Injuries Board to pursue the claim in court. The authorisation was granted.

My Justice Raymond Groarke heard at the Civil Court in Dublin that Rebecca had settled her whiplash injury claim against the broadcasting company for an undisclosed sum, and the court could strike the case.

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