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Father awarded €110k in damages 22 years after his son died from contaminated blood

The father’s application to the Hepatitis C Tribunal was refused.

Image: Shutterstock/wk1003mike

THE HIGH COURT has awarded €110,000 in damages to the father of a man who died as a result of contracting Hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood products.

The father previously had a claim rejected by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal but the High Court ruled he was entitled to damages for nervous shock and distress suffered following his son’s death.

In his judgment, Justice Michael Hanna said that he was satisfied that the father, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was entitled to compensation over the “tragic death” of his son in late 1994.

The judge said the father had suffered from moderate post traumatic stress following his son’s death. It was not the most serious case, but the judge said it was “a significant one.”

The father had sought compensation from the Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal for the post traumatic stress and nervous shock he suffered following his son’s death.

In 2013, the Tribunal dismissed the father’s application for compensation after finding he had failed to establish he suffered a psychiatric injury above the effects of normal grief, distress and bereavement.

Compensation for loss of society was awarded by the tribunal in favour of the father.

The father, in proceedings against both the Minister for Health and the Tribunal, appealed the rejection of his claim for nervous shock to the High Court.

Haemophilia  

In his judgement Justice Hanna said the man’s son was born a haemophiliac and contracted Hepatitis C and HIV from contaminated blood he was given.

The judge said the man’s son was managing his illness, but in late 1994 became unwell.

His father dropped him off to the hospital. This was the normal thing to do given the son’s condition, when the son became ill. The father said there was nothing untoward on that occasion he left to the hospital.

The following day the father was told he was urgently needed at the hospital. While in the waiting area he witnessed the emergency transfer of what turned out to be his son.

The father, who is now aged in his seventies, was later called into a room, but was not told what to expect, where he found his son laid out dead.

BLOOD DONOR CLINICS Source: Joe Dunne/Photocall Ireland!

This the judge said was “an utterly harrowing vista” for the father, and a situation which was “nightmarish.”

The Judge said the man, who was already vulnerable following the loss of another of his children in a road traffic accident, did suffer from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of what happened to him.

The father, the judge said has lived for more than 20 years with “the awful reality of what occurred.”

The father he said had suffered problems including sleeplessness, irritability and an interference with both is quality of life and his ability to work.

The father’s life the judge added was genuinely, seriously and significantly affected by his son’s death.

It was perhaps “a mark of the man” and his inner strength that he was able to cope at all given the awful experience of his son’s death set against the previous tragedy of losing his four-year-old daughter, the judge said.

In the circumstances the judge said the father was entitled to €125,000 compensation However, the judge said he was reducing the award by €15000 to €110,000.

This was because the man had failed to undergo therapy.

The judge concluded that while the failure to do was understandable there was an obligation on all of us to mitigate our losses.

Comments have been disabled to protect the identity of the man. 

Read: ‘I just took her up in my arms and held her’: Mother gives evidence about the night her daughter died >

Read: Taxi driver allegedly sexually assaulted woman when bringing her home from night out >

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Aodhan O Faolain

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