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Man receives €300,000 after suing defibrillator supplier over wife’s death

Man receives €300,000 after suing defibrillator supplier over wife’s death

March 03, 2022

Court approves settlement in relation to 39-year-old’s death following cardiac arrest

A man has secured a €300,000 settlement against a defibrillator manufacturer and supplier in his action over the death of his wife after she suffered cardiac arrest in her workplace cafeteria.

In High Court proceedings, Brendan Farrell claimed his wife Elaine O’Keeffe, a 39-year-old mother of two, was deprived of an opportunity of survival because a defibrillator in the cafeteria in Bray, Co Wicklow, did not work when she suffered cardiac arrest there on October 10th, 2012.

There was a significant issue in terms of establishing causation of death arising from the alleged defective defibrillator, the court was told this week.

Mr Farrell claimed the defibrillator failed to operate when it was used to attempt to resuscitate Ms O’Keeffe. Her death that same day was certified as being the result of acute heart failure by reason of a floppy mitral valve. A medical report obtained by the plaintiff from a cardiologist expressed the opinion that had a functioning defibrillator been available, Ms O’Keeffe’s prospects of survival would have increased by some 38 per cent.

Represented by Finbarr Fox SC, Mr Farrell, of Hillside, Greystones, Co Wicklow, sued on behalf of himself and the couple’s two children. The bulk of the claim was for financial dependency arising from the death of Ms O’Keeffe.

The case was taken against Takeda Ireland Ltd, for whom Ms O’Keeffe worked at the time as a quality assurance department manager; and against HSS Management Ltd trading as Heart Safety Solutions (HSS) and HeartSine Technologies Ltd, respectively the supplier and manufacturer of the defibrillator.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross was asked by Mr Fox this week to approve an offer of €300,000, plus costs, from HSS and HeartSine to settle the case.

Counsel outlined his view there would be a significant problem in establishing at trial, as a matter of probability, that a functioning defibrillator would have led to Ms O’Keeffe’s survival.

In those circumstances, his side supported, subject to court ruling, a settlement offer of some €300,000 made by HSS and HeartSine, counsel outlined.

The judge agreed to make various orders, including orders against HSS and HeartSine for payment of €300,000, plus costs. He struck out the case against Takeda with no order. He made orders for payments for €30,000 each to the two children, Rory and Eimear, aged 16 and 15 respectively, out of the settlement, with the remainder for Mr Farrell.

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