Mother disappointed at lack of apology as rugby injury case is settled

Lucas Neville, a former student at St Michael’s College, Dublin, receives €2.75m for suffering permanent brain injuries

Lucas and Michelle Neville at the High Court, Dublin. “What happened to him and what he went through should not have happened,” Mrs Neville said yesterday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Lucas and Michelle Neville at the High Court, Dublin. “What happened to him and what he went through should not have happened,” Mrs Neville said yesterday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Tue, Mar 25, 2014, 01:00

A mother whose only son has a severe and permanent brain injury due to head injuries suffered during a schools rugby match and at training has voiced her regret a €2.75 million settlement for him was not accompanied by an apology.

Lucas Neville (22), whose capacity for independent living and employment and education prospects have been seriously adversely affected, patted his mother Michelle’s knee as the court approved the settlement offer, plus costs.

“An apology would be nice,” Michelle Neville told Ms Justice Mary Irvine. “What happened to him and what he went through should not have happened.”

The Nevilles’ barrister Bruce Antoniotti SC said that while they believed the case had a higher value, they were recommending the offer because a hearing to assess damages had run for two weeks and was “hard-fought”.

Lucas had sued St Michael’s College, Ailesbury Road, Dublin, and St Vincent’s Healthcare Group after being injured in the head twice, once during training on November 11th, 2009 and again when called on to play the last few minutes of a match on November 28th. Both admitted liability but challenged a €5 million damages claim.

Lucas and his mother went to St Vincent’s hospitalafter the November 11th training injury and got treatment but went back four days later because he was experiencing headaches. Had a head scan been carried out, as his mother suggested but was told was unnecessary, a subdural chronic haematoma could have been diagnosed and evacuated, the court heard.

Although his mother told St Michael’s about the November 11th injury and was reassured the school would implement its protocol prohibiting students with head injuries participating in contact sports for three weeks, he was called on to play on November 28th.

He collapsed after suffering a kick to the head and was taken to hospital where an acute haematoma, a second haemotoma on top of the earlier chronic one, was diagnosed. His life was saved by emergency surgery at Beaumont Hospital.