Air Corps chemicals order to be challenged

The State Claims Agency is to appeal a discovery order granted to a chronically ill man who is seeking a list of the chemicals he was exposed to while working as a technician in the Air Corps.

Gavin Tobin is one of seven former Air Corps members taking cases against the State, claiming they are suffering from a variety of illnesses as a result of their unnecessary exposure to chemicals while cleaning and maintaining the force’s aircraft.

Mr Tobin has received the medical opinion of a toxico-pathologist who states that his various medical complaints and organic Encephalopathy — or brain disorders — are as a direct result of chemicals he used while working at the Air Corps headquarters at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, in Dublin.

Mr Tobin has suffered depression, anxiety, fatigue, and other complaints, and has been told that these exposures also put him at a greater risk of Alzheimer’s and a variety of cancers.

In October 2016, the High Court granted Mr Tobin an order for discovery of the chemicals he used while working at Casement Aerodrome from 1989 to 1999. 

He had argued he would need a full list of the chemicals he was asked to use during his time in the Air Corps in order to make his case against the State.

However, the written judgment on the discovery order, published by the Courts Service, shows that the State argued against granting Mr Tobin this list of chemicals.

The State Claims Agency argued the Air Corps does not have such a list, and would not be able to create it.

While it conceded that it could compile a list of the chemicals used in the workshop in which he worked, it said “ a full discovery of this category which required all records concerning chemicals in use at the Aerodrome was unnecessarily wide and would impose too heavy a burden”.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott, however, granted the discovery order and said “the quantities and dates of purchase and use of chemicals and mixtures and the safety data concerning their handling, application and use form a highly relevant and important part of the case”.

“Having regard to the nature of the case made I am satisfied that the plaintiff will suffer serious disadvantage in the preparation and presentation of his case if the relevant records sought under these categories are not made the subject of a discovery order,” Mr Justice McDermott’s 2016 ruling read.

The judge also dismissed the State’s argument that Mr Tobin’s request was too broad.

“The identification in the defendants’ records of the chemicals named and likely to have been used by the plaintiff in the course of his duties is highly relevant to the establishment of his claim,” he ruled.

However, the State has yet to furnish these documents to Mr Tobin or his legal representatives over a year and a half since the order was granted.

The State Claims Agency will next month argue against the granting of the order in the Court of Appeal. The agency said it would not be replying to queries from this newspaper regarding the appeal.


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