Parents of disabled son have lost confidence in HSE, court hears

Parents appeal for lump sum payment from HSE

Edmund and Karen O’Mahony, from Blarney, Co Cork,   leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins

Edmund and Karen O’Mahony, from Blarney, Co Cork, leaving the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins


The parents of a man with locked-in syndrome have told the High Court they have lost confidence in the HSE as a provider of services for their severely injured son.

Eoin O’Mahony, now aged 30, was a Leaving Cert student in 2001 who, after complaining of headaches, was admitted to the hospital where a number of procedures, including partial removal of a tumour, were carried out. He later lapsed into a coma-like state and suffered devastating brain injuries.

Through his mother Karen, Eoin had sued the HSE over his injuries. After liability was conceded, his action settled in 2010 on terms including an interim payout of €2.9 million.

A further interim payment of €1.2 million towards his care needs was made two years ago.

The case returned to court for assessment of the cost of further care needs.

The HSE proposed a payment for care costs for the next five years but Eoin’s parents appealed to Mr Justice Michael Moriarty to allow the case be concluded via a capital lump sum payment.

Paul Sreenan, for Edmund and Karen O’Mahony, Station Road, Blarney, Co Cork, said the family has lost confidence in “the State’s bona fides” related to bringing in legislation aimed at ensuring the lifelong care needs of the catastrophically injured are met via periodic payments.

Mr Sreenan said Eoin is entitled to damages and not mere assurances concerning the provision of services which had been, on occasion, not honoured.

Counsel told Mr Justice Michael Moriarty there had been gaps in the provision of nursing hours leading to the family having had to step in to look after Eoin.

In the action, it was alleged Eoin sustained traumatic brain injuries after a hospital procedure.

On November 23rd, 2001, following complaints of headaches, he was referred to Cork University Hospital at Wilton. He was readmitted four days later and underwent a procedure to reduce pressure on the brain.

On November 30th, he underwent another procedure and partial removal of a tumour but on December 1st, 2001, he lapsed into a coma.

Mr Sreenan told the court Eoin can’t walk or talk and is fed through a tube. Counsel said he cannot even use his finger to press a button if he needs help and essentially suffers from locked in syndrome.

Asking for a final lump sum, counsel said it was an understatement to say Eoin’s parents are fed up returning to court.

“When the case settled four years ago, it was thought we were on the cusp of legislation,” Mr Sreenan said.

The parents no longer considered it was in their son’s best interests to continue to come back to court and they wanted to finalise the case with a capital lump sum payment.

The constant preparations for litigation is draining for the family and for Eoin who has to undergo examinations, he said.

The O’Mahonys have worked out they have spent 13 years of their lives in litigation, he added. The case continues.