Lawyer who suffered brain injury during procedure awarded €7m

Father of two cannot communicate his needs or pain and needs 24-hour care, court hears

A lawyer who suffered an acquired brain injury when he failed to regain consciousness after receiving an anaesthetic for a routine back procedure has settled his High Court action for €7.1 million.

Frank Cowan, a father of two, of Clonee, Co Meath, was aged 46 when he suffered the injury.

Oonagh Mc Crann SC, for Mr Cowan, said he suffered a catastrophic hypoxic brain injury which arose as a result of negligence in anaesthetic management.

Through his wife Janette, he sued an anaesthetist, Deirdre Lohan, in relation to his anesthethetic management when he underwent a routine back procedure. Liability was admitted in the case in October.


Counsel told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that Mr Cowan had been a practising barrister in the Law Library until 2008 and later worked in the regulatory industry.

Spine surgery

In 2014, he was experiencing back pain and went to the Sports Surgery Clinic, Santry, Dublin, for elective routine cervical spine surgery, counsel said.

Mr Cowan suffered an acquired brain injury which has affected all aspects of his life, she said. While he reacts to his family and smiles at his children, he cannot communicate his needs or pain and needs 24-hour care.

She said Mr Cowan is currently being cared for in a care facility but his family hoped to be in a position to care for him at home.

The €7.1 million sum was a final settlement in the case as Mrs Cowan found the whole litigation process so distressing she and her family wanted to be “done and dusted” with the matter, counsel added.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross sympathised with the family on the “terrible tragedy”.

After Mr Cowan sustained the injury, friends set up a trust and carried out fundraising to help Mr Cowan and his family and help fund his long-term medical care, the court heard.