Lump sum ends 13-year case for man with locked-in syndrome

A High Court judge yesterday ruled that a man with locked-in syndrome after an operation at Cork University Hospital can now get a final lump sum payment rather than return to court every few years for a periodic payment.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty made his decision following an appeal from the family of Eoin O’Mahony, Blarney, Co Cork to allow their court litigation to end after 13 years.

Eoin O’Mahony was a Leaving Cert student in 2001 when he suffered headaches and was admitted to Cork University Hospital where brain surgery was carried out. He later lapsed in to a coma-like state and the High Court heard Eoin, who is now 30 years of age, suffered devastating brain injuries.

Four years ago, Mr O’Mahony settled his High Court action with an interim payout of €2.9m and a further interim payment of €1.2m two years ago.

Mr O’Mahony’s family had pleaded with the court to allow their legal case to final end with a capital lump sum payment.

Senior counsel for Karen and Edmund O’Mahony told the court the family have also lost confidence in “the State’s bona fides” in bringing in legislation to allow for periodic payments for the catastrophically injured. They wanted the case to end after 13 years in litigation with a final capital lump sum payment.

In his ruling yesterday, Mr Justice Moriarty said Mr O’Mahony’s family viewed a future of returning to court to decide on periodic payments with deep depression and anger.

The judge said unhappily the legislation providing for periodic payments for the catastrophically injured is not yet in place though he accepted what counsel for the HSE told the court that the legislation was the books for next year.

In making his decision the judge said he took into consideration the facts of the case before him.

Mr O’Mahony had, through his mother Karen O’Mahony, sued the HSE over injuries he sustained in 2001. Liability was conceded in the case.

Mr O’Mahony sustained traumatic brain injuries after a hospital procedure.

On November 23, 2001, following complaints of headaches he was referred to Cork University Hospital, Wilton, Cork. He was readmitted four days later and underwent the brain procedure to reduced pressure on the brain.

On November 30 of that year, he underwent another brain procedure and partial removal of a tumour but, on December 1, 2001, he lapsed in to a coma.


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