Widow secures €1.6m payout over loss of husband's farm inheritance
Published 22/12/2011 | 05:00
THE widow of a farmer who died as a result of negligent medical treatment has been awarded almost €1.6m in damages because of the loss of an expected inheritance of a 623-acre farm.
Grace Davoren, a mother-of-four from The Barn, Ballyalben, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, claimed she lost out on a €1.5m inheritance of her husband Michael's family farm.
Yesterday, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill ruled in her favour, and awarded her and her family €1,591,957.70 in damages.
Mrs Davoren had sued the HSE (Western Area) consultant gastroenterologist John Lee and consultant surgeon Oliver McAnena following the death of her husband Michael (47) on August 31, 2003, at University College Hospital, Galway.
Mr Davoren had been suffering from colitis, which affects the colon. The defendants did not contest liability.
Mrs Davoren said her husband was an only son who had worked on the 623-acre family farm in Ballyalben all his life and was due to inherit it. He and his wife also ran a 269-acre farm in Ballycahill, adjoining the Ballyalben farm.
However, following his death, relations between his wife Grace and mother Maura deteriorated. Maura Davoren changed her will so that it benefited her daughter Mary O'Regan.
Grace Davoren had claimed that if her husband had not died before his mother, the farm would have been left to her.
Yesterday, Mr Justice O'Neill rejected an argument by the defendants that it was probably the falling out between Grace Davoren and her mother-in-law that had caused them to lose out on the inheritance of the estate.
He said that even if the falling out was the cause of Maura Davoren changing her will, this was directly due a change in her state of mind caused by her son's wrongful death.
He added that he was satisfied Michael Davoren's dependents would have inherited the estate of Maura Davoren if it wasn't for his wrongful death.
The judge ruled that Mrs Davoren was entitled to €1,312,275 for the loss of inheritance of Maura Davoren's estate as well as €184,271 to cover the loss of income from farming the Ballyalben farm following Maura Davoren's death.
In addition, he awarded €50,436, representing half of the loss of rental income of the family home, on the basis that the family would have moved into the Ballyalben house after inheriting and would have rented out their own home.
He also awarded general damages amounting to €44,975.79.
Mr Davoren was transferred to University College Hospital, Galway, in late July 2003 with colitis.
Mrs Davoren had alleged that her husband was treated with medication by Dr Lee for a period even though his condition had deteriorated and it was likely he required urgent surgery.
It was alleged Dr McAnena performed surgery on Mr Davoren on August 21, 2003, after it had been noted the patient was not making progress. It was alleged Mr Davoren's condition deteriorated and an emergency laparotomy was performed on August 29.
Mr Davoren was returned to the ICU, where he was identified as suffering with multi-organ failure. It was alleged that he suffered a cardiac arrest on August 31 and was pronounced dead some hours later.