Family of man who died of brain injury settles case for €57,500

High Court heard Martin Farrell allegedly not assessed properly at Naas Hospital

The family of a man who died the day after his brain injury was allegedly not properly assessed in a hospital have settled their High Court action for €57,500. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

The family of a man who died the day after his brain injury was allegedly not properly assessed in a hospital have settled their High Court action for €57,500. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

The family of a man who died the day after his brain injury was allegedly not properly assessed in a hospital have settled their High Court action for €57,500.

Martin Farrell (67), a father of six, died at Naas General Hospital on December 5th, 2017, after being found on a footpath in the early hours of the previous day.

Ambulance personnel reported that he had lay down on the footpath and fallen asleep and appeared to have consumed alcohol.

He could not be positively identified at the hospital and was categorised in the emergency department as a less serious “category 3” patient for the purpose of triage. On examination, he was unresponsive and a scan showed he had bleeding on the left side of his brain.

He was taken to intensive care and intubated, but his condition deteriorated and he died at 2.25pm on December 5th.

His family, through his son Dean Farrell, of Forest View, Allenwood, Naas, sued the HSE. It was alleged that the deceased was not properly assessed on arrival at the hospital and was assigned a triage category which was incorrect and led to a longer time for him to be seen by a doctor.

The court was told that liability was an issue.

Not reasonable

A consultant surgeon, JW Rodney Peyton, engaged by the family’s solicitor, reported it was not reasonable for ambulance personnel not to consider Martin Farrell had suffered a trauma.

Mr Peyton also believed there was a gross breach of duty by nursing staff. This was acknowledged following a review of the matter in August 2019, Dean Farrell said in an affidavit.

However, Dean Farrell said that Mr Peyton was also of the view, even if the deceased had been afforded timely treatment, that it was unlikely the outcome would have been different.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons said there was a difficulty with liability because even if the correct triage situation had been reported, Mr Farrell would have died. That gave rise to an issue in relation to causation.

The offer of €57,500 was 80 per cent of the value of the case and there was a risk, if it went to trial, it could result in no damages at all, he said.

The settlement was therefore a good one and he would approve it, he said.

The court heard €35,000 of the settlement — the statutory payment for dependants in a case of wrongful death — is to be divided equally between the six children.

Four of the children, who live in Ireland, are from Mr Farrell’s marriage. Two, who live in Latvia, are daughters of a subsequent relationship he had with a Latvian woman.