Judge approves €200k for intellectually disabled woman allegedly 'forced from home' by mine collapse

Judge approves €200k for intellectually disabled woman allegedly 'forced from home' by mine collapse

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he would approve the settlement for reasons including liability was much at issue. File photo: iStock

An intellectually disabled woman who allegedly had to leave her home in Co. Monaghan as a result of the collapse of an adjacent mine has secured €200,000 under a settlement of her High Court action.

While noting concerns of Margaret Kieran’s family about the adequacy of the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said today he would approve it for reasons including liability was much at issue and the risk if the matter went to trial.

The defence disputed Ms Kieran and her elderly mother Louisa were compelled to leave their home at Drumgossat, Magheracloone, Carrickmacross, as a result of subsidence at the mine, the court heard.

David Kieran, a brother of the plaintiff, told the judge she is now living with him but is unhappy and wants to be back home and that their mother Louisa, aged 91, is very ill and living with their sister.

Ms Kieran, aged 49, suing through her brother David, had taken proceedings against Saint-Gobain Construction Products (Ireland) Ltd.

It was alleged, arising from significant subsidence in September 2018 at a mine owned by the defendant near Ms Kieran's home at Drumngoassatt, she had to vacate her home. It was claimed the defendant's old mine workings are under the Kieran farm and end about 50 metres from the family home.

It was claimed Ms Kieran was very independent and functioned at a high level. She worked at a local hotel until about 2009, attended a sheltered workshop up to 2017 and after that attended a daycare centre.

In an affidavit, her brother said she had a happy and settled existence in the family home with her mother until the accident at the mine turned her routine and lifestyle "on its head".

Her medical experts had reported she suffered significant psychological distress in the form of an acute distress disorder and an adjustment disorder while reports from the defendant's medical experts took a different view of her condition.

Today, David Kennedy SC, for Ms Kieran, said he considered the full "best-case scenario" value of the case, was €300,000 while the settlement offer was €200,000. A previous offer of €150,000, made after mediation, had not been accepted and Mr Kieran and the family were not happy with the latest offer.

Counsel noted the court, when rejecting the earlier €150,000 offer, had concerns about issues including causation and remoteness if the case went to trial. If the €200,000 offer was rejected by the court, the matter would go to trial, he said.

The incident has had "a life-changing" impact on Ms Kieran, counsel said. Her family home, in which she and her mother held a life interest, remains uninhabitable and her mother has a seemingly chronic illness.

In evidence, Mr Kieran told the judge he had concerns about the settlement offer but would be guided by his legal team and the court. He is happy to have his sister living with him but she wants to go home and is unhappy, he said.

The court heard, prior to the mine collapse, there were plans to "reconfigure" the family home when their mother was no longer able to look after Ms Kieran with a view to her having supported accommodation.

Having considered the matter, including the risks if the case went to trial and Ms Kieran's mother being no longer able to care for her, Mr Justice Cross said he would approve the settlement and wished Ms Kieran and her family well for the future.

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