Thursday, November 18, 2021

The husband of a 44-year-old mother who is seriously ill has pleaded with the State “to do the right thing” and let both her own case of assessment of damages against the HSE and the consideration of the future care needs of her children go ahead before the High Court.

Liability has been admitted in the case of mother of two Amanda Murphy, who the High Court heard on Thursday, suffered a significant brain injury and has been on a ventilator and at times in a coma since last year.

At the Four Courts Mrs Murphy’s husband Fergal, through his solicitor David O’Malley, implored the State “to have a heart” and consent to the two strands of the case going through the courts side by side.

It is claimed because of an anomaly in the law, the strands can’t run together unless the State parties consent to such a move.

Outside court, in a statement on behalf of Mr Murphy and his family, Mr O’Malley said the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had stated no woman would be dragged through the courts.

“I say to the State, keep your promise. We ask the State to rectify this anomaly before it is too late and consent and do the right thing,” he said.

Negligence

The case had come before Mr Justice Paul Coffey as the Murphy side sought directions on whether Mrs Murphy’s case for assessment of damages should go ahead as listed next week.

Counsel for the Murphys, Des O’Neill SC instructed by David O’Malley of Callan Tansey solicitors, said negligence was admitted in the case. He said Mrs Murphy had been on a ventilator for the past year.

Counsel said a choice has to be made whether to continue with the personal injuries action brought by Mrs Murphy or after her demise bring a case revolving around the future care of her children.

Counsel said the Murphys were not seeking to be doubly compensated but the State parties, he said, could consent to the two strands of the assessment for the injuries and the future care needs of the children cases running together.

He said his side sought directions on whether Mrs Murphy’s claim should go ahead next week or be adjourned.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey said Mrs Murphy would want to make a decision for the benefit of her children. The judge said another way was if the State was to in a position to consent to both cases it would overcome the difficulty.

Difficult position

Counsel for the HSE told the court it acknowledged the difficult position but said it was up to the Murphys to elect whether or not to proceed with the action next week.

Mr Justice Coffey adjourned Mrs Murphy’s action generally which will not now go ahead next week and to facilitate the bringing of an action later by the Murphy children.

Amanda Murphy (44), a school principal from Ballina, Co Mayo had sued the HSE in relation to her care at Mayo University Hospital, Castlebar and Sligo University Hospital in 2016.

Amanda Murphy was found unresponsive with the symptoms of a prolonged seizure. Photo: Collins Courts

It was claimed there was a failure to identify for a protracted period Mrs Murphy had sustained damage to her brain and the brain injury it was claimed was allowed to remain undiagnosed and untreated.

She had gone to the Mayo hospital on January 9th, 2016 after she had a fall at home.

A wound on her scalp was stapled, and she was advised the fall was due to low blood pressure, and she was sent home. It was claimed no CT scan or other investigation took place.

Two days later she was admitted to the Sligo hospital after she was sent by her GP and she had a CT scan and other investigations. No cause was found and medication was prescribed to keep her blood pressure elevated.

On January 16th Mrs Murphy had a second fall which appeared to be as a result of a seizure, and she was taken by ambulance to Sligo General Hospital.

She was kept for observation overnight and the fall was again attributed to low blood pressure.

On January 19th Mrs Murphy was found unresponsive with the symptoms of a prolonged seizure. On examination, she had slurred speech and left sided weakness.

It was submitted by the Murphy side that, had the injury been identified and repaired at the time of the admissions to the hospitals, she may on the balance of probabilities have made an uncomplicated recovery.

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