Successful lawyer died after procedure to cure blushing.

From The Irish Independent on Thursday 1 December 2005:

"Alan Synnott was the country’s leading solicitor specialising in personal injuries.

He had built up a large and very successful practice, but the 44-year-old father of three suffered from social phobia and facial blushing.

The blushing was interfering with his ability to speak in public and to run his office and deal with staff.

He was referred to a surgeon for an operation to stop the blushing but, during the operation, a vein and artery were damaged and massive bleeding occurred.

Emergency surgery had to be carried out and Mr Synnott, according to court papers, lost over three times his total blood volume in a 3-hour period.

Three days later, after brain scans, he was pronounced dead.

Yesterday his grieving widow, Eleanor Synnott, settled her action for damages for €5m. “This has given me closure but no money is going to compensate me for the enormous loss of my wonderful husband and father of my children,” Mrs Synnott said outside the Four Courts.

She had sued Austin Leahy, a surgeon attached to the Bon Secours Hospital, Glasnevin, Dublin, who carried out the operation over two years ago.

The High Court yesterday approved the settlement, which included €4m for Mrs Synnott and over €200,000 each for Mr Synnott’s three children – Lisa (13), William (12) and Lydia (7).

Mr Justice Vivian Lavan approved the settlement and extended his sympathy to the Synnott family. “I know it was a great tragedy,” he said from the bench.


An inquest into the death of the solicitor heard he suffered a haemorrhage after a vein and artery were damaged during the operation in March 2003. His condition deteriorated and a scan showed later that he had suffered brain damage.

Mr Synnott was one of the country’s best known personal injuries solicitors and was the principal of Lawline Solicitors in Christchurch Hall, Dublin.

His wife, who lives with their children in South Dublin, claimed that her husband had been referred to Mr Leahy on March 11, 2003. The letter of referral indicated Mr Synnott was seeking advice in respect of undergoing an operation to prevent the blushing.

Mr Leahy formed the view Mr Synnott would benefit from the operation and obtained a written consent form.

It was claimed the consent form indicated the risks from the operation were dry hand, compensatory sweating, Horner’s Syndrome and the need for a chest drain.

On March 27 Mr Synnott was admitted to the Bon Secours private hospital. The operation involved inserting a tubular device into the chest cavity.

Following unsuccessful attempts the angle of entry was changed and the tube put in an upward manner.

It was claimed that massive bleeding occurred when the subclavian vessels and lung were damaged, and emergency surgery had to be carried out. The next day Mr Synnott was transferred to Beaumont Hospital’s intensive care unit.

Scans revealed he required urgent decompression and he was taken to the operating theatre where a burr hole was made in his skull to drain off fluid.

Over the next 24 hours, he did not show evidence of recovery of cerebral function and, on March 30, tests showed he had suffered brain stem death.

Family life

Mr Synnott according to court papers enjoyed his family life and had built up a large and very sucessful practice.

His family were deeply attatched to him and it was claimed they have suffered and continue to suffer mental distress by reason of his death.

Outside the court yesterday, Mrs Synnott said the last 2 years had been extremely difficult.

She said she was delighted to put it behind her and she thanked her legal team."

03 December 2005

    Dear Joice… you are and have been very professional, sympathetic and dignified in all of your dealings with us and I put that down to one simple fact. You listened.

    James, Medical Negligence Client

    Neil is an absolute gentleman to deal with – kind, tactful and very efficient. We could not praise him highly enough. He brought us through a horrible time.

    Sean, Medical Negligence Client

    Many thanks again for a job well done. We really appreciate all your hard work and practical advice.

    Corporate client in a commercial litigation matter

    Dear Jamie, You and your team in ACL were so professional, diligent and prompt. I have recommended you and the firm, and will continue to do so.

    Lorraine McCarthy

    Gus Cullen and the firm’s approach to addressing the key issues was professional, yet personal, efficient yet attentive.


    The process is a difficult one and when you deal with people who are so professional and yet genuine/real people, it makes it so much easier... so thanks a million.


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