Former pet shop worker receives further €1m over contracting rare disease

Woman suffered catastrophic injuries after allegedly contracting chlamydia psittacosis from parrot

A woman who was left severely disabled after allegedly contracting a rare disease from a pet shop parrot 14 years ago has secured a further payout of €1 million at the High Court.

Patricia Ingle, from Co Limerick, was 19 when she suffered catastrophic injuries after allegedly contracting chlamydia psittacosis - an airborne infection which can be transferred from birds to humans - while working at the Petmania store, Ennis Road, Limerick.

The latest interim payout which was approved by the High Court on Wednesday brings to €16.5 million the total amount paid out to Ms Ingle as part of the settlement of her legal action.

Her counsel, Oonah McCrann SC, told Mr Justice Paul Coffey that six interim payments had been made in the case so far.

Ms Ingle’s case will come back before the court in July next year when her future care needs will be assessed.

In 2011, Ms Ingle secured a multi-million euro structured settlement - believed to be about €7.5million - which at the time was the highest ever in a High Court personal injuries action. She later received further payouts for her future care including €3 million a number of years ago.

Ms Ingle, now aged 34, suffered catastrophic injuries and is paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.

From Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra, Weston, Co Limerick, she had sued Petmania Limited, Jetlands Retail Park, Ennis Road, Limerick; its parent company, O’Keeffes of Kilkenny Limited, Springhill, Kilkenny, and the HSE.

It was claimed she suffered her injuries after contracting chlamydia psittacosis in 2008. She also alleged her condition was negligently mismanaged by the HSE.

Both defendants denied the claims against them in proceedings which had been listed to last several weeks but settled after talks on the fourth day of the case.

During the proceedings, the court heard chlamydia psittacosis can be passed from parrots to humans through inhalation of airborne dried faeces dust or from the feathers or respiratory secretions of the birds.

It was alleged Ms Ingle contracted the disease during July/August 2008 when a Cockatiel parrot was purchased by the store for €20. It was stated that class of bird was implicated in the disease.

It was claimed Ms Ingle received no training in health and safety matters when working with animals while working at the Petmania store in 2007 and 2008.

On August 12th, 2008, she suffered violent headaches and vomiting, attended a doctor and was sent to the Midwestern Regional Hospital where she was treated and sent home to rest.

There was a slight improvement but after a very bad night on August 31st with headaches and increased vomiting she went to her GP on September 1st and was sent to hospital.

By September 3rd, she was technically voiceless and had suffered irreversible brain damage, blurred vision and could not move along with difficulty in swallowing, it was claimed.