The family of a 25-year-old man who died minutes after an ambulance arrived has settled their High Court action over an alleged delay to the emergency response for €125,000.
Dualtagh Donnelly had cut an artery in his arm when he punched a glass panel in a door of his home in Dundalk, Co Louth, after returning there in an intoxicated state in the early hours of the morning six years ago, Mr Justice Garrett Simons said in a judgment.
Approving the settlement, the judge said there was significant and rapid blood loss, as well as cardiac arrest and death. Mr Justice Simons noted the settlement has been made without an admission of liability.
The case centred on the ambulance response time. Mr Donnelly’s partner Lyndsey Cooney called emergency services at 3.06am. The inquest into Mr Donnelly’s death heard an advanced paramedic arrived at the house at 3.29am.
The ambulance arrived at 3.45 am and, while there was a tracker on the ambulance at the time, there was no GPS navigational system and the vehicle had taken a wrong exit off the M1 motorway. A GPS system is now a feature of all ambulances.
An open verdict was returned at the inquest.
Ms Cooney, who was pregnant with her third child at the time of her partner’s death, had sued the Health Service Executive (HSE) in the High Court.
In her affidavit to the court, Ms Cooney claimed there was an alleged delay in getting an ambulance to the scene and an alleged delay in giving appropriate treatment to Mr Donnelly on October 26th, 2015.
She said the proceedings encompassed a nervous shock claim in respect of psychiatric injuries she suffered.
Mr Justice Simons approved the settlement and the division of the solatium (a statutory mental distress payment totalling €35,000). He noted that Mr Donnelly had gone into respiratory arrest at about 3.41 am and into cardiac arrest at 3.47 am.
The judge said it was apparent from the various expert reports that there would be significant difficulties in making good either the complaints made in the action in relation to alleged failure to dispatch an alternative unit or in relation to the treatment provided by the paramedics.
In the case, Mr Justice Simons said there was no evidence of any operational negligence and he reiterated that the HSE had made it clear at all times that the offer of settlement had been made without any admission of liability on its part. Nothing in his judgement should be misinterpreted as implying any finding against the HSE, he added.
Having regard to the grave difficulties in respect of liability, the judge said the proposed settlement was a very generous one.