I ‘suffered carbon monoxide poisoning’ from car

Helen Noble told the court her eyelashes and hair fell out over the period she used a BMW Mini Clubman. Picture: Courtpix

A mother of two who claims she suffered chronic carbon monoxide poisoning due to an alleged oil leak from the turbo charger of her new BMW Mini Clubman car has launched a High Court action for damages.

Solicitor Helen Noble bought the BMW under a hire purchase agreement for €45,362 in 2008 for her three-hour commute from her Co Wicklow home to work in a Dublin city practice.

She told the High Court yesterday that she suffered headaches, dizzy spells, nausea, and slurred speech and her eyelashes and hair fell out over a three-year period as she used the car for her daily 76km round trip from home to work.

“It was the most harrowing, horrible experience of my life,” she said. “I missed out on a couple of years of my children’s lives. It was a horrendous couple of years.”

Ms Noble, aged 42, of Killballyowen, Aughrim, Co Wicklow, has sued Motor Import Ltd, trading as Frank Keane (Naas Rd), BMW AG, with registered offices at Munich, Germany, and Permanent TSB. The defendants deny any liability.

Ms Noble claims she was subjected to noxious, dangerous gases and alleged carbon monoxide poisoning over three years.

Ms Noble claims she was acting as a consumer when she bought the car from the Frank Keane premises at Naas Rd, Dublin, on August 14, 2008.

Jim O’Callaghan, SC, said that, in July 2011, Ms Noble’s husband Mike saw a significant collection of black soot on the engine. At a garage, they were told the turbo charger was leaking.

She said she then contacted her GP. The GP believed the inhalation of raw diesel fumes could have caused all of her symptoms, she said. Counsel said his side contends Ms Noble was exposed to untreated diesel fumes as the fumes had not gone through the catalytic converter.

“It was the most sickening moment. I now knew I was not going bonkers. I never drove the car again,” she said.

“I was aware at work of my slurred speech it was professionally embarrassing, people think you were out on a big one the night before.”

Oonah McCrann, SC for the defendants, said evidence would show that the only gas entering the passenger compartment was oxygen, and that if carbon monoxide was entering as claimed, there would be a smell of diesel fumes.


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