Saturday 3 December 2016

Paramedic who sued for nervous shock after witnessing colleague's death settles High Court action

Tim Healy

Published 04/03/2016 | 12:37

Medic PJ Cahill leaving the High Court after the hearing (Pic: Courtpix)
Medic PJ Cahill leaving the High Court after the hearing (Pic: Courtpix)

A paramedic who sued for nervous shock after witnessing the death of his colleague who fell out of an ambulance has settled his High Court action.

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PJ Cahill was driving an ambulance which was transporting a patient from Cavan to Dublin when his life long friend, father of six Simon Sexton fell out the ambulance side door and was killed.

Mr Cahill (50) from Kilnagarbet, Stradone, Co Cavan had sued his employers the HSE and the German manufacturer of the ambulance Wietmarscher Ambulanz Und Sonderf Ahrzeug GMBH for nervous shock after witnessing the accident in June 2010.

He had claimed  an ambulance was supplied which permitted the side door to open against the direction of travel and there was an alleged failure  to ensure a motion lock was fitted to the door to ensure it could not be opened while the ambulance was in motion.

The claims were denied by both defendants.

On the third day of the case yesterday Miriam Reilly SC told the court the case had been resolved and could be struck out against both defendants.

Mr Justice Raymond Fullam complimented the sides and their legal advisors for resolving what he said was a difficult case for everybody . The judge said the resolution of the case  was in the best interests of everybody.

During two days in the High Court Mr Cahill told he suffers survivor's guilt after the accident on June 3, 2010.

“The survivor’s guilt was hitting me all the time. I felt it was never ending thing. I was on a merry go around I could not get off,” PJ Cahill said.

He added: ”All I know is it should never have happened. You are working for a caring professional service and end up falling out of an ambulance dying on the side of the road.”

He said he was driving the ambulance on the N3 Cavan to Dublin Road on June 3, 2010 and was about seven miles out of Cavan town when he heard a  thud. He looked in a mirror to see his 43-year old friend and father of six Simon Sexton hit the ground. He told how he began resuscitation and continued his attempts in a second ambulance which had been dispatched to the scene, but Mr Sexton was pronounced dead some time after his arrival at Cavan Gehneraol Hosptial.

Three years ago the HSE was fined €500,000 for health and safety breaches as a result of the paramedic's death in June 2010.

In a statement after the settlement and issued through  Hayden Dolan & Co Solicitors, Mr Cahill said he was pleased the litigation had come to an end and he said it had been a very stressful time for him and his family.

"In particular PJ's thoughts are with Catherine Sexton, the widow of his life long friend and colleague Simon and their six wonderful children," the statement said.

The paramedic also thanked his wife Bernie and their chidren along with his friends and work collleagues for their support..

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