Posted: September 4th, 2019
The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) have ordered Bus Éireann to pay a long-serving bus driver €10,200 in compensation was constructively dismissed
The bus driver Dan Fitzpatrick said that he has been left ‘deeply traumatised’ over the nature of his constructive dismissal by the national bus firm. Mr Fitzpatrick had been employed by Bus Eireann for 16 years in the Galway area. The company advised him that he would need to retire from his position or be terminated due to an incident involving an elderly passenger in November 2017.
If he has opted to stay on and be fired and he would have no longer been entitled to his €10,000 to €15,000 retirement gratuity. due to this he retired on November 27, 2017, after what he described to the WRC as “a flawed and unfair disciplinary investigation” by Bus Éireann. He subsequently lodged a claim for constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act with the WRC.
WRC Adjudication Officer, Ray Flaherty said that Mr Fitzpatrick had no option but to retire when he was told failure to do so would result in him losing his retirement gratuity and referred to the gratuity ultimatum to Mr Fitzpatrick as “unreasonable and unacceptable”.
In his findings, Mr Flaherty said that comments made to Mr Fitzpatrick by a boss that “there is no excuse for this behaviour” during the incident and “you will never work in the company again” supported Mr Fitzpatrick’s claim that fair process was not adhered to.
Bus Éireann did not attend the WRC oral hearing but a Bus Éireann representative stated: “Bus Éireann do not comment on individual cases and we have no further comment”.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “I feel vindicated by the WRC ruling because I did nothing wrong. I was always only interested in doing my job properly. There was no justification for what happened to me.
In the aforementioned incident Mr Fitzpatrick, in his own words, said that he physically escorted an elderly passenger off a city route bus service after a heated exchange between the two and repeated requests from Mr Fitzpatrick for the man to leave the bus. Once the gentleman was clear from the bus he promptly got back into his driver’s seat and proceeded to drive away.
The next day after the incident, Mr Fitzpatrick was summoned to his boss’s office where he was shown with three different CCTV tapes of what occurred and was immediately suspended pending a subsequent disciplinary hearing.
Posted: November 21st, 2018
€25,000 work injury compensation has been awarded to Detective Garda Eamon Moran who was attacked with a blade on an aeroplane as he accompanied a deported Nigerian man to Lagos. Garda Moran sustained cuts to his face and has now been awarded Garda workplace injury accident compensation at a hearing in the High Court.
Legal counsel for Garda Moran, Barrister Breffni Gordon, informed Justice Michael Twomey that while working with the Garda National Immigration Bureau, he (Garda Moran) was travelling with the Nigerian national between Madrid and Lagos when the deportee armed himself with a razor blade. He then attacked the Garda cutting him across his right ear, the right side of his face and on his upper back before being apprehended. Luckily there was a doctor on board at the time who was able to treat Garda Moran and help to stop the bleeding. The attack occurred in March 2012 when Garda Moran, now aged 44, was 38 years old.
He sought further medical attention at a Madrid hospital, receiving 29 stitches, and attended with his family doctor upon his return to Ireland. His family doctor prescribed a course of anti-inflammatory analgesic medication to treat the wounds.
Though his wounds have now healed Garda Moran has been advised that his scars will be visible for the remainder of his life. High Court Justice Twomey was informed that Garda Moran had to deal with a significant amount of stress and sleep disturbance following the attack. In an attempt to deal with this he had attended almost a dozen counselling sessions. In 2015 his counsellor advised him that he did not suffer with any residual post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Garda Moran told the Court he was absent from work for about four months before returning to his former position and duties.
At the High Court Judge Twomey awarded Detective Moran €25,000 Garda workplace compensation together with an additional €3,000 special expenses.
Posted: August 3rd, 2018
The Labour Court has ordered Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Co to pay former Business Development Executive, Gráinne O’Hara, €7,500 over continued breaches of the Organisation of Working Time as she was required to deal with out-of-hours work emails, including some after midnight. This led to additional work of over 48 hours a week on a number of occasions.
Ms O’Hara’s contract of employment with the Kepak firm required her to work 40 hours per week. She claimed that she worked close to 60 hours a week. To back up her argument, Ms O’Hara submitted copies of emails that she sent to and/or received from her employers both earlier that her normal start time and later than normal finish time on multiple time when she was employed there.
Along with this, Ms O’Hara submitted that emails that were sent to her employers and responses that were received from her employer prior to 8am. Ms O’Hara told the court she was not provided with a copy of all of her emails by her former company.
Ms O’Hara worked with the Kepak firm at its Blanchardstown facility in Dublin from July 2016 until April 14th 2017.
Kepak firm responded to the claims stating that that the level of work carried out by Ms O’Hara was normal for their staff members, none of whom work longer that the 48 hour weekly maximum set out in legislation.
In its final report the Labour Court acknowledged that Kepak did not provide a complete file of Ms O’Hara’s emails and gave no proof to contradict her evidence in relation to this.
The court ruled that Kepak firm breached the Organisation of Working Time Act by allowing Ms O’Hara to work over 48 hours a week and that Ms O’Hara’s complaint had a firm basis.
Ms O’Hara was appealing the quantum of an Adjudication Officer’s ruling that she be given a work injury compensation award of €6,240. She (Ms O’Hara) claimed that the Adjudication Officer did not award her an adequate amount of compensation “for the systemic nature of the breaches of the Act involved in the case”. The Labour Court increased the Adjudication Officer’s award by 20% to €7,500.
Posted: March 13th, 2018
A driver is seeking van driver accident compensation in the High Court as he claims to have he hurt his back when a mattress he was delivering carried him for 12 feet before throwing him to the ground after it was taken by a gust of wind
The van driver, 54-year-old Mr Declan Homan, stated that was bringing the 4 foot 6 inch mattress to an apartment on his final delivery on December 13 2011 when the accident happened. Three days after the incident he said that he to leave work due to pain and has not been able to work since then. Due to this he has included a claim of €400,000 to compensate for loss of earning since then and in the future.
Mr Homan, Island Lodge, Walsh Island, Co Offaly, has sued Etmar Ltd, with offices at Glen Easton Point, Leixlip, Co Kildare, due to the outcome of the incident that occurred on December 13, 2011. One of Mr Homan’s brothers is a director of Etmar.
Kevin was doing deliveries with another one of his brothers in the Sandyford Industrial Estate in Dublin when he fell from a height of five feet, about twelve feet away from the truck.
Additionally, he has claimed that he was not provided with the required safety equipment such as a safety harness. Due to the injurie Mr Homan alleges that he began to suffer back pain immediately and still he has constant pain that is exacerbated by any degree of activity.
Etmar Ltd are denying these claims.
Mr Homan told Mr Justice Kevin Cross he went to work the next day and attended a doctor three days after the accident occurred.
Legal Representatives for Etmar, while cross examining Mr Homan, put it to him that the extent of his injuries and the consequences were a “gross exaggeration” to which Mr Homan replied: “I disagree with you.”
Counsel suggested to him the mattress incident was not foreseeable by his employer as it was caused by a gust of wind and, additionally, that he (Mr Homan) had not complained it was too windy to do the job. Mr Homan replied there was no point as he would have been told carry on regardless.
The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues.
Posted: December 20th, 2017
The result of report released by the Personal Injuries Commission (PIC) shows that the rate of whiplash injury is much higher in Ireland than in most other European countries.
The Personal Injuries Commission, which was set up in early 2017 to review compensation claims with a aim of looking closely at the surge in soft tissue and whiplash claims.
Car insurance costs grew by 70% between 2013 and 2016. Exaggerated/fraudulent claims are being held responsible for this surge.
The Commission reveals in the report that it is of the opinion that establishing an independent medical panel to review occurrences of whiplash injuries would interfere with a claimant’s rights, so it is not calling for that course of action to be introduced.
Alternatively it calls for the establishment of a uniform approach for medical staff dealing with whiplash injuries. Currently there is no relevant accreditation needed or benchmark standard for a doctor who needs to produce a medico-legal report on a personal injury compensation claim in Ireland. The report states that doctors should adopt a standardised method in diagnosing, treating and reporting on soft tissue injuries, of which the vast majority are whiplash related.
The Commission stressed that the Quebec Task Force Whiplash Associated Disorder grading scale should be applied by medical professionals reporting on relevant injuries. This scale is based on the extent of symptoms and associated physical indicators and states that “Training and accreditation in soft tissue reporting is agreed as being the best practice requirement for those wishing to complete relevant reports”.
It is thought that a self-testing element by the injured individual should also be introduced to assess compensation and damages neccessary.
Chaired by Judge Nicholas Kearns, the PIC urged insurance companies to publish details on the rates of whiplash injuries reported. This could be an pivotal element of the National Claims Information Database being developed by the Central Bank of Ireland at present.
Justice Kearns remarked that such sharing of information on whiplash injuries would improve the personal injuries compensation sector in Ireland by encouraging ‘an objective standard’ for examining whiplash injuries. He added that, in future, reports will look at comparative systems and bench marking compensation award levels globally to ensure we remain relevant.
Posted: November 23rd, 2017
Following a car accident that occurred in 2010 a Garda has been awarded €31,000 work accident damages due to injuries he suffered when his Garda squad car was rammed.
Former Limerick hurler Garda Nigel Carey (46), from Croom, Co Limerick, was injured when the Garda squad car he was sitting in was rear ended in October 2010 during a high-speed chase.
Legal Counsel for Mr Carey, Barrister Kevin D’Arcy, said his client had previously been quite a well known athlete, a hurler, at the time of the crash happening in 2010. Mr Carey attended his GP once regarding his neck, shoulder and lower back injuries and was advised to seek physiotherapy therapy.
Garda Carey advised the court that the Garda squad car was “sent flying” due to the force of the crash impact, the vehicle damaged to the extent that it had to be written off in the aftermath of the incident.
Mr Carey’s neck, right shoulder and lower back had been injured in the accident. He said that his shoulder was still restricted but it did not impede his movement to any great extent.
Presiding Judge, Mr Justice Bernard Barton said “the best medical report supporting Garda Carey’s claim for compensation” was given by the chief medical officer from An Garda Síochána who had reviewed Mr Carey’s injuries on behalf of the Minister for Public Expenditure.
Mr Carey did not try to gather up more and more medical reports to exaggerate his injuries. He also returned to work as soon as possible after the incident happened.
For this behaviour, the judge paid tribute to Garda Carey’s dedication during the Workplace Car Accident Compensation hearing as he had only been absent from work for just three days in the aftermath of the incident. He went on to say it was to Garda Carey’s eternal credit that he had not made an issue of his back injury which quickly became better.
Posted: May 11th, 2016
A Dublin-based food storage company has plead guilty to HSA charges of breaching health and safety laws that lead to the death of an employee.
The victim of the accident, Robert Ceremuga, was just thirty-two years old when he was killed in a work accident on the 28th November 2015. Whilst working in a warehouse owned by his employers, VF Coldstores Ltd, a rack that was supporting over thirty-six tonnes of foodstuff gave way, causing the products to fall onto Robert and kill him instantly. A report followed that determined the rack broke because of an accidental collision with a forklift, which was being operated by an employee that had been working with the firm for just three weeks. It was later uncovered that the person operating the vehicle lacked the adequate license to drive a forklift.
VF Coldstores Ltd were then prosecuted by the Health and Safety Authority, who alleged that the company had breached health and safety laws. Last month, at the Circuit Criminal Court, a representative for the firm plead guilty to all charges. The court, overseen by Judge Melanie Greally, also heard a victim impact statement read by Maria, Robert’s widow. After this statement the hearing was adjourned by Judge Greally such that a “scientific” approach could be used when calculating compensation.
The hearing was reconvened by Judge Greally earlier this month, during which VF Coldstores Ltd were fined €200,000 for breaching the health and safety regulations. In an interview with the press after the announcement of the fine, Brian Higgisson, the Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, said that “It is important that employers adequately manage and conduct work activities, in particular carrying out risk assessments before any major works, such as alterations to racking. These assessments should ensure that everyone has the necessary training, knowledge and experience to complete the work in a safe manner.”
Posted: April 14th, 2016
A High Court judge has awarded a six-figure settlement of compensation to a waitress after expert testimony showed the jugs she was required to use were not fit for purpose.
The claim for compensation was made by Sophie Caillaud, aged forty-two, after she sustained a deep cut to her thumb when a jug she was using suddenly shattered in her hand. At the time of the accident, Sophie was working in the Lough Rynn Hotel in Mohill, Co. Leitrim.
Sophie was brought to hospital and surgery was carried out to try and heal any soft-tissue damage she had sustained. However, since the accident Sophie has not regained full strength in the digit and this has negatively affected her ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
After seeking legal counsel, Sophie made a claim for her work accident compensation against Bunzl Outsourcing Ltd and Utopia Tableware Ltd, the suppliers and manufacturers of the jugs.
The two defendants disputed the claim for compensation made by Sophie, alleging that the amount being requested was too high for the type of injury sustained. The also argued that Sophie had acted negligently, and contributed to the accident herself.
Negotiations did not yield any results, and after interventions from the Injuries Board failed, the case proceeded to the High Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. Judge Cross was informed of previous injuries sustained by hotel staff because of the same type of glass jug that had injured Sophie.
An expert witness also gave testimony at the hearing of how rapid heating and cooling of the jugs – as they would experience in a dishwasher – would have weakened the joint between the jug’s thick handle and comparatively thin body. The expert concluded that the jugs did pose a risk and were, as such, unfit for purpose.
After Sophie gave her testimony, Judge Cross dismissed any allegations made by the defendants of her contributory negligence, as well as allegations made that she had exaggerated the extent of her injuries. After commenting that he had found Sophie to be “entirely genuine”, he awarded her €500,000 in compensation.
Posted: March 12th, 2016
A compensation claim made by a chef for injuries sustained in a restaurant kitchen have been resolved for a five-figure compensation settlement.
Mr Shijun Liu was working in the Howard’s Way Restaurant, Rathgar in March 2013 when the accident occurred. On the day of the incident, Mr Liu was working in the restaurant’s sister establishment in Dublin, and was trying to help a cleaner manoeuvre a domestic power hose that was used to clean kitchens.
As he was attempting to untangle the hose, it suddenly turned on and started spurting scalding water, causing severe burns to Mr Liu’s foot. He was taken to the VHI Clinic in Dundrum for treatment.
Mr Liu was incapacitated for two weeks after the accident, unable to return to work. After seeking legal advice, Mr Liu proceeded to make a claim against his employer, Declan Howard (trading as Howard’s Way Restaurant). When the Injuries Board requested permission to investigate the claim, however, it was denied.
The claim for the kitchen injury compensation was taken to the Circuit Civil Court earlier this month, where it was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. Evidence was given that the hose was not suitable for use with such hot water, as it would have softened over time. Judge Groarke found in Mr Liu’s favour, awarding him €15,000 compensation, adding that he found Mr Liu’s version of the events very compelling.
Posted: February 16th, 2016
The liability for injuries sustained by a social worker while working for the HSE has been split equally between the man and his employer.
In June 2009, a social care worker by the name of Joseph Kavanagh (54) was working with youth with behavioural difficulties in a Special Care Residential Unit. Joseph-originally from Enfield, County Meath-was asked to supervisor a teenager on a routine family visit. Towards the end of the occasion, the teenager-who must remain anonymous for legal reasons-grew agitated and ran away from Joseph.
Joseph ran after his charge, but twisted his knee and fell to the pavement, hearing a loud cracking sound as he hit the ground. He was brought to hospital, and an x-ray later revealed that he had broken a bone in the area. Despite medical intervention, Joseph still experiences discomfort that distracts him from daily life. He was also left with a scar from his injury.
Joseph sought legal advice, and made a social care worker injury claim against the Health Service Executive (HSE). In the action, Joseph claimed that his employer failed to carry out a thorough risk assessment of the situation, despite the youth showing severe agitation prior to the visit. Joseph argued that had the assessment been carried out, a fellow social care worker or member of staff should have been present so that Joseph would not have had to give pursuit.
His employers denied any liability for Joseph’s injuries. The social care worker injury claim was brought to the Circuit Civil Court, where it was heard by Judge Francis Comerford. Midway through proceedings, the judge was told that a settlement had been agreed between the parties and that the dispute had been resolved.
The details of the settlement of compensation were not released, but it is known that the liability for Joseph’s injuries were split equally between the HSE and Joseph. The case was struck out of court, and Joseph was awarded his legal fees.
Posted: September 5th, 2015
A forty-seven year-old man, who was seriously injured after he fell from a ladder at work, has received compensation for his injuries.
The accident occurred on the 22nd March 2011 when Michael Brady, from Monasterevin in Co. Kildare, was working at his family firm in Naas. He had just started work at the Philip Brady Building Contractors Ltd when he was asked to clear vegetation from a gutter. Accompanied by his father, Philip Brady (who does not own the company, but is related to the owner), he climbed atop of a sixteen-foot ladder to accomplish the job.
Philip briefly left his son, but by the time he returned, Michael had fallen from the ladder and was found unresponsive on the ground. The emergency services were called and Michael was rushed to hospital. There, he underwent emergency neurosurgery and since has had other operations to reconstruct his the damage to his face and repair some more of the brain damage. However, since the accident, Michael has been dependent on round-the-click care and has suffered from impaired vision.
The brain damage meant that Michael was deemed unable to represent himself in court, and as such Philip Brady Senior made a claim for work injury compensation on his son’s behalf. In the claim, Philip alleges that the ladder Michael was required to use was not suitable for the task and that it lacked sufficient safety guards to prevent him falling.
However, Philip Brady Building Contractors Ltd denied that they were liable for Michael’s accident. However, just before the scheduled High Court hearing, the judge who was to oversee the case was informed that Michael had been offered a compensation settlement of €1.5 million. The judge approved the settlement for a work injury claim and then closed the case.