FATAL INJURY DAMAGES INCLUDES COMPENSATION FOR LOSS OF INHERITANCE OF FARM

farmA very interesting case came before the High Court.   Mr. Justice O’Neil in 2011 when Grace Davoren, widow of the late Michael Davoren, was awarded over €1.5m for fatal injuries arising from medical negligence in the treatment of her late husband.

What is particularly interesting about the case, sad though it was, is how the Court approached the issue of compensation.

Tragically, Mr. Davoren died on the 31st August 2003 while under the care of the HSE.   Mrs. Davoren instituted proceedings against the HSE and Mr. Davoren’s Medical Consultant.  Liability was admitted.

The late Mr. Davoren himself was a farmer since a very young age having grown up on his parents’ farm near Ballyvaughan in Co. Clare.   While his father was still living Mr. Davoren effectively took over the running of the Family Farm.   Mr. Davoren’s own father had transferred a farm to him during his lifetime but had retained a second farm.   Young Mr. Davoren did, however, farm both farms as a single entity and did so after his own father’s death.    He ran the home farm in conjunction with his mother.    He was an excellent and progressive farmer and maintained a large stock of Agricultural Machinery which he used on both farmers.

Following his death there was, regrettably, a breakdown of relations between Mr. Davoren’s widow, who was bringing the Claim, and her mother in law Maura.    Mrs. Maura Davoren had made a Will leaving the home farm to her son but changed her Will subsequent to his death.

Had Mr. Davoren survived he would have inherited the home farm for the benefit of himself, his wife (the Claimant) and their children on his mother’s death.

Mrs. Davoren’s case was brought on behalf of herself and her children.

Notwithstanding strong argument on this point from the Defendant’s Barrister, the Judge was satisfied, based on evidence received, that the late Michael Davoren would have inherited the farm from his mother and that he would have wanted to have handed this and his own farm to his children in due course.   It seemed to the Judge highly probable that the entirety of the late Mr. Davoren’s Estate would have been inherited by his wife and children in due course.   He was satisfied therefore that Mrs. Davoren was entitled to claim for this loss.

The Judge discounted the argument by the Defendants that, what had simply been lost, in relation to the Home Farm, was a “loss of chance” as he felt that it was very probable the Mr. Davoren would have proceeded to inherit his mother’s farm had he survived.

Further, the Court accepted the submission by Mrs. Davoren’s barrister that the falling out between her and her mother in law was of itself, the direct consequence of the wrongful death of Michael Davorean as her mother in law seemed to blame her in some way or other for his death.

 

 

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