Augustus Cullen Law reaches a two year care cost agreement for disabled opera singer. The following articles outline details of the case:
Settlement reached over cost of care for disabled opera singer
The Irish Time – Wednesday, February 23, 2011
"A settlement has been reached over the cost of care arrangements for an award winning part-time opera singer who has been left severely disabled as a result of medical negligence.
Elaine Lennon (36) was awarded an interim payment of €2.39 million damages last week after a hospital and a GP failed to properly diagnose the cause of headaches which turned out to be an abscess on her brain.
The HSE, as operator of the hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, and Dr Patrick Ó Mathúna, a general practitioner in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, admitted liability in the case.
Ms Lennon is now confined to a wheelchair, is only able to speak in a whisper and lives in a nursing home away from her partner and her child, the High Court heard.
The issue of future care costs, until a new system of periodic payments in such cases is introduced in the next two years, was left over until yesterday by Mr Justice John Quirke.
The HSE contested the level of payments being sought for Ms Lennon’s care until the judge was told her lawyers wanted her to be brought in to give evidence in the matter.
When Ms Lennon was brought into court, Adrienne Egan SC, said it had been agreed that a payment of €75,000 would be made to cover the cost of transition from the nursing home to the care of Ms Lennon’s family, plus €13,500 a month to cover the costs of carers for the next two years.
Approving this, Mr Justice Quirke told Ms Lennon he would see her again within two years “and I hope to hear you singing again”.
He said he would have loved to have heard her singing and was told she had made a CD.
Smiling broadly, Ms Lennon replied in a faint voice she would love to go to the opera again. “I used to sing all the time,” she said."
Agreement reached for disabled woman’s care
RTÉ News Website – Tuesday, February 22, 2011
"An agreement has been reached between an opera singer left severely disabled as a result of medical negligence and lawyers for the HSE over her care for the next two years.
Lawyers for the HSE North East had challenged the care arrangements needed for 36-year-old Elaine Lennon for the next two years.
But after a day of legal proceedings before the High Court, an agreement was reached this evening, just before Ms Lennon was due to give evidence herself.
Last week, Ms Lennon was awarded an interim payment of almost €2.4m as a result of the negligence of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and Balbriggan GP, Patrick O’Mathuna.
However, the issue of the type of care she would receive in the next two years was not resolved.
The mother-of-one suffered a serious brain injury four years ago as a result of the failure to carry out a CT scan that would have shown an abscess in her brain.
She collapsed after the abscess burst and is now confined to a wheelchair. The court heard the abscess could have been treated with antibiotics if it had been discovered earlier.
The court was told that Ms Lennon can only walk with the aid of two carers and needs two carers 24 hours a day. The HSE had argued that she needed only one.
Ms Lennon’s lawyers also argued that she needed childcare for her daughter, who is currently cared for by Ms Lennon’s partner’s mother. The HSE said that the person caring for Ms Lennon could care for her daughter.
There was also a dispute over transitional arrangements for Ms Lennon as she leaves the nursing home she is currently in and moves into a specially adapted house and a dispute about her overall care package for the next two years.
This evening the court was told that the HSE has agreed to pay a lump sum of €75,000 to pay for assistance from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland and to pay for ‘more than one’ carer.
The HSE will also pay more than €13,000 a month after Ms Lennon leaves the nursing home, until the case comes back to court again in two years’ time.
Mr Justice John Quirke said he thought this was an ‘extremely good’ settlement and ‘worth the struggle’.
He said he would have loved to hear Ms Lennon, a former award winning soprano, sing. Her lawyers provided him with a CD of Ms Lennon singing in 2004.
Ms Lennon and her family hope to buy a house where she can live with her partner and their four-year-old daughter. The court heard she ‘desperately’ wants to be reunited with them and live as a family.
The court was told Ms Lennon can perform simple acts, such as dressing herself, but needs assistance. She is very clumsy and has a lack of co ordination in both hands.
She has double vision and has involuntary eye movements. She lost her voice but it has improved a bit over the last four years.
The court heard she cannot operate her wheelchair herself and has to be pushed. She has problems with short-term memory and sometimes has inappropriate emotional responses.
It is hoped that within the next two years the Government will bring in legislation to provide for periodic payments, linked to inflation, for people in a similar situation to Ms Lennon.
A number of personal injuries cases have now been settled on an interim basis and are due back before the courts in two years’ time."
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23 February 2011