A High Court action where a young woman is suing after she suffered brain damage when a car collided with her as she walked to school has had to be adjourned until the new year after a member of a legal team tested positive for Covid.
Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Tuesday adjourned Ashleigh Carroll’s case until mid-January.
The judge who has to assess the compensation due to the young woman was told that €100,000 will be paid out immediately by the defendant to the credit of the action.
Ms Justice Reynolds told both sides there had to be some reality as to how the court hears the action in the new year and said the parties should liaise on all the issues before the case comes back to court. The judge said she had anticipated a hybrid hearing where Ms Carroll and her mother would come to court to give evidence but expert evidence could be taken over video link.
The court previously heard that Ashleigh Carroll, when she was 14 years of age, suffered a significant brain injury in the accident in north Dublin City as she walked to school five years ago.
Ashleigh, now aged 19 years, from Glasnevin, Dublin has through her mother Louise Carroll sued the driver of the car Shereen El Mashad, who was a doctor at Beaumont Hospital at the time.
At the opening of the case last week, the court was told the doctor who drove at speed through a red light before colliding with the teenager had blamed the schoolgirl for the accident.
Ashleigh’s counsel Richard Kean SC said “scurrilous allegations” were made and an “utterly dishonest” account was given by the doctor driver of the car after the accident, meaning the 14-year old was for four years blamed for it.
As a result, Ashleigh Carroll in her action has asked the court to award aggravated damages in the case.
Mr Kean said an Irish arrest warrant exists for the doctor who has returned to her native Egypt.
The doctors insurers, Axa Insurance, counsel told the court, had waited for four years to admit liability “when they knew their client was on the run”.
Last Friday, the court had to be adjourned after a member of a legal team had a positive antigen test. The judge was updated on the situation over the weekend and when the case was due to be resumed on Tuesday, it was a full remote hearing.
Counsel for the defendant, Edward Walsh SC, said a PCR test had shown the member of the legal team was Covid positive and he was now isolating. Other members of the legal team had two antigen tests which were negative and have yet to have a third antigen test.
Mr Walsh submitted that a virtual hearing was unsuitable, particularly in relation to the cross examination of witnesses.
Ashleigh’s counsel, Richard Kean SC, said his side was anxious to proceed and this was a situation not of their making. Counsel said all sides were agreed the action needs to be heard "in one blow".
He said Ashleigh and her mother were grateful to the judge for her ruling last Friday that everybody must wear masks in court.
The case will be mentioned before the court on January 18 next year.