High Settlement for Sports Injuries Approved by Judge

A revised settlement for sports injury compensation has been approved by a Circuit Court judge on behalf of a teenager who rejected the initial offer of compensation.

Rhian Holohan, then aged fifteen from Co. Meath, was playing a game of soccer in June 2012 when the accident occurred. The game, played between Kenstown Rovers FC and Ayrfield United, was part of the Dublin Women’s Soccer League.

Rhian was acting as goal keeper for the match and, as she dived to obstruct the ball, she gashed her knee on a piece of broken glass that was on the grass. Rhian received emergency first aid before she was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for further treatment.

In Accident and Emergency, Rhian’s knee was stitched and cleaned under local anaesthetic. The laceration was very deep, and as such Rhian had to use crutches for many months after the accident to help alleviate the pain and swelling she experienced. Now, she has a visible circular scar where the gash was.

Acting on Rhian’s behalf, her mother – Anita – made a claim for compensation against Dublin City Council, the Trustees of Airfield United FC and the Trustees of Dublin Women’s Soccer League. Each of the accused parties accepted liability for Rian’s injury.

The parties negotiated a settlement of compensation worth €22,000. However, this settlement then proceeded to the Circuit Civil Court for approval by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke as it was made on behalf of a party under the age of eighteen.

However, Judge Groarke initially refused to approve the compensation settlement, believing that it was too low considering the extent of Rhian’s injury. Negotiations recommenced, and Judge Groarke was presented with a revised settlement of €30,000. This he approved and continued to close the case.

Storage Company Fined for Death of Employee

Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court have fined a storage company €200,000 for breaches of health and safety regulations that resulted in the death of one of their employees. 

The accident occurred on the 28th November 2015 when Robert Ceremuga, a thirty-two year-old warehouse supervisor, was at work for VF Coldstores Ltd.. Tragically, a rack that supported around thirty-six tonnes of food products collapsed atop of Robert, killing him instantly. After the accident, an engineer’s report revealed that a forklift had accidentally collided with the rack, causing it to give way. It was also uncovered that the employee charged with the forklift had been working at the warehouse for just three weeks and lacked the appropriate license to operate the machine. 

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) proceeded to prosecute VF Coldstores Ltd. for their breaches of health and safety regulations. Last month, at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court, a representative for VF Coldstores Ltd plead guilty to the charges. During the same hearing, Maria – Robert’s widow – read a victim impact statement, after which the judge – Ms Justice Melanie Greally – decided to adjourn the hearing such that she could calculate compensation using a “scientific approach”. 

Earlier this week, the hearing was reconvened. Judge Greally ordered VF Coldstores Ltd to pay a fine of €200,000 for their negligence. Brian Higgisson, the Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, commented after the announcement of the fine that “It is important that employers adequately manage and conduct work activities, in particular carrying out risk assessments before any major works, such as alterations to racking. These assessments should ensure that everyone has the necessary training, knowledge and experience to complete the work in a safe manner.”

“Heroic” Teenager Compensated for Birth Injuries

The High Court of Dublin has approved a final settlement of birth injury compensation for a teenage girl who sustained severe brain damage after she was deprived of oxygen at birth.

On the 11th October 1999, Mary Malee was born at the Mayo General Hospital via an emergency Caesarean Section. However, her mother alleges that there was an unnecessary delay of eighty minutes in Mary’s delivery, as a miscommunication between staff meant that there was difficulty in locating a paediatrician. During this time, Mary was deprived of oxygen in utero and now suffers from cerebral palsy.

Acting on her daughter’s behalf, Maura Malee – of Swinford in Co. Mayo – made a claim for delayed delivery resulting in birth injury compensation against the Mayo General Hospital and the Health Service Executives. In the claim, she alleges that despite the fact Mary had been diagnosed with foetal distress syndrome, the hospital failed to deliver her in a timely manner due to the lack of paediatrician.

In March 2014, Mary was offered an interim settlement of compensation and the case was subsequently adjourned for two years whilst a new system of periodic settlements was introduced in Ireland. However, no such change came and earlier this month the Malee family returned to the High Court for the approval of a €5.56 settlement of compensation.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who oversaw the High Court hearing, heard from May that “the stress of ongoing engagement with the HSE and the courts is not what I want”. Mary also detailed her dream of becoming a spokesperson for the disabled, and as he described Mary’s ability to overcome the challenges presented to her as “heroic”, Judge Kelly approved the settlement.

After the announcement of the settlement, Mary commented to the press that “Cerebral palsy won’t kill me but I have to learn to live with it … it’s for life. This shouldn’t have happened to me and others like me. Justice has been done and I’m bringing closure to this, we can move on with our lives”.