Judge dismisses injuries claim involving ‘remarkable’ differences in medical evidence

‘It is rarely a good idea for a would-be plaintiff to visit their solicitor before seeking medical treatment’

Judge James McCourt said it defied belief that the claimants had been prepared to sign off on paperwork ‘that could, and in this case was, relied upon to test their credibility’.

Judge James McCourt said it defied belief that the claimants had been prepared to sign off on paperwork ‘that could, and in this case was, relied upon to test their credibility’.

 

A judge has thrown out four claims for a total of €240,000 in damages arising from an accident close to the Border in which four occupants of a car that was “rear-ended” claimed to have sustained significant injuries.

Judge James McCourt described the difference in medical reports provided by Dundalk doctor John Murphy for the four plaintiffs and the histories recorded on their complaints by Blackrock Clinic orthopaedic surgeon Garry Fenelon, who had examined each of the plaintiffs on behalf of defendant South County Self Drive, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, as “remarkable”.

The rear-ending incident happened on December 1st 2014 on a slip road off the M1 motorway at Carrickdale, Dundalk.

The judge said it was also remarkable how the four plaintiffs could recall the basic key facts of a thud to the back of their car and yet be so vague in their recollection of their injuries.

Judge McCourt dismissed €60,000 personal injury claims brought by Gerard Donegan (42) and his wife Kim Cooney (35) of Bayview, Jonesboro, Newry, Do Down, as well as Thomas Murphy (38) of the same Bayview address and Raymond McParland, a 42-year-old blocklayer of St Ronan’s Villas, Drominskin, Dundalk.

He told Shane English, who appeared with Crowley Millar solicitors for the defendant, that the court could not shake off the somewhat cavalier approach or evasiveness of the evidence of the four. All of them had seemed to feel they should be afforded greater latitude than normal when it came to recollecting their injuries because the accident had happened seven years ago.

“It is rarely a good idea for a would-be plaintiff to visit their solicitor before seeking medical treatment,” Judge McCourt said. “If all of them had turned up at Dr Murphy’s door before going to their solicitors then some store might be placed on Dr Murphy’s reports.”

Mr English had told the Circuit Civil Court that their solicitor, Sean Sheehan of Aaron Kelly Solicitors, Palace Street, Drogheda, Co Louth, had directed all of them to Dr Murphy, instead of their normal general practitioners, to swear eight- and nine-page medical reports because the legal firm had used him in earlier claims.

It was remarkable, the judge said, that none of them had sought treatment from their personal doctors prior to having been directed by their solicitor to “their swearing doctor,” Dr Murphy.

The judge said the injuries board forms, subsequently signed by each of them, contained a number of inconsistencies regarding previous claims.

“It defies belief that each and every one of them seemed prepared to sign off on the form. One would fully expect their solicitor to have explained to them that the form is something that could, and in this case was, relied upon to test their credibility,” Judge McCourt said.

Mr English had suggested to Mr Donegan, Mr Murphy and Mr McParland that they had deliberately lied, exaggerated their injuries and misled the court about previous claims and said he would, if necessary, call an Allianz investigator to give evidence to that effect.

The counsel stated in court that their claims had been timed to coincide with the last-but-one day within which they could have been legally brought.

He said it had left South County Self Drive Limited no opportunity to seek evidence from the driver of the hire car who was a Polish national who had long ago returned to his own country.

Throwing out all four cases and awarding costs against the claimants, the judge said that no matter what way he looked at their claims, he had to consider the issue of their credibility.