A Cork Anti-Austerity Alliance councillor settled her compensation case yesterday for an injury while working as a home help.
The case taken by Lil O’Donnell, elected to Cork City Council in 2014, was due to go into its second day at the High Court in Cork yesterday but Ms Justice Caroline Costello was told the case had settled and could be struck out.
It was also struck out in terms of the issue between the defendants in the civil action — the HSE and the householder for whom Ms O’Donnell had been working as a home help at the time.
The terms under which the case was settled were not disclosed.
Ms O’Donnell, of Blarney St, Cork, fell when closing the front door of the house at Farran St, Blackpool, Cork, where she had worked as a home help for about 15 years.
Ms O’Donnell, who is 73, sustained injuries to her right elbow when she fell on March 30, 2014.
For the plaintiff, Dr John O’Mahony, senior counsel said it was a very nasty injury and that the locking mechanism on the front door had been faulty; she had reported it to her employer, the HSE, and that it was an accident waiting to happen.
Defence senior counsel Michael Gleeson said the HSE could not fix doors of private households and that the alternative might be to withdraw the home help service until the householder repaired it. In any event he said the HSE did not know there was any fault with the lock or the door.
Ms O’Donnell thought it was unbelievable that the HSE would not have known.
The plaintiff told Ms Justice Caroline Costello that she had numerous communications with the HSE about the problem in the year before the accident.
Ms O’Donnell described the accident.
“I was pulling it forward towards myself to make sure it would not open again,” she said. “For some reason I found myself falling backwards. I thought I was kind of floating. I found myself in the middle of the actual street. I thought at first I was flying. It seemed like my [right] arm was not part of me, I was numb. I was bleeding quite heavily.”
Mr Gleeson cross-examined her about her description of what happened. He said that, by her account, she was turning the key and pulling the door closed, but this was not the defence evidence. He said an eyewitness would say, “that you locked the door, you took the key out, put it in your pocket and turned, and sometime after you had disengaged from the door and put the key in your pocket, that you fell on the step”.
Ms O’Donnell replied: “That would certainly not be my memory of it.”
Mr Gleeson then asked her how the key was found in her pocket at the scene of the fall.
She replied: “I don’t even know if the key was in my pocket.”
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