Settlement of Compensation for Locked-In Syndrome to be Decided by Judge

A judge will decide how much compensation for locked-in syndrome should be awarded to a man from Cork after an agreement could not be reached during a court hearing.

In November 2001, Eoin O´Mahony was admitted to the Cork University Hospital for brain surgery following complaints of headaches. An initial procedure on 23rd November to reduce pressure on his brain failed to resolve the problem, and Eoin underwent a second operation on 30th November to partially remove a tumour that had been discovered.

Unfortunately, Eoin lapsed into a coma on 1st December due to brain damaged caused by the negligence of his surgeon. When Eoin recovered, he was diagnosed with locked-in syndrome – a condition in which a patient is aware, but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body.

The Cork University Hospital conceded liability for Eoin´s brain injuries in 2009, and interim payments of compensation for locked-in syndrome amounting to €4.1 million have been paid to his parents in lieu of a structured periodic payment system being introduced. As legislation has not been passed for periodic payments, Eoin´s parents had asked for a lump sum payment to finish the thirteen years of litigation they have endured on their son´s behalf.

At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty conceded to their request, but after nineteen days of hearings – during which Eoin´s future needs were discussed – no agreement could be reached between Eoin´s legal team and the State Claims Agency. Mr Justice Michael Moriarty briefly adjourned the hearing after instructing the parties that the final settlement of compensation for locked-in would be between €10 million and €10.1 million and asked them to reach agreement.

When the hearing reconvened, Judge Moriarty was told that Eoin´s family was willing to split the difference, but the State Claims Agency would not agree to the arrangement. The judge said that he would make the final decision in October, and instructed the State Claims Agency to make a further payment of €800,000 to Eoin´s family to cover their medical and care expenses in the intervening period.