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Couple awarded €2m after they were exposed to toxic chemicals at ‘dream home​’​​​​​​


Mr Justice Kevin Cross

Mr Justice Kevin Cross

Mr Justice Kevin Cross

A couple who claimed they were exposed to toxic chemicals after spray foam insulation was installed in their home have been awarded just over €2m.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he had come to the conclusion beyond any doubt whatsoever that Patrick and Anita Duffy sustained “their life-altering serious injuries as a result of exposure to chemicals”.

The probable cause was the foam that had been injected into the roof, he said.

The Duffys’ injuries were caused beyond a reasonable doubt by the exposure to the product as sprayed by the insulation installers, he said.

On the balance of probabilities the judge found that due to the nature and extent of the injuries they were due to exposure to Isocyanate.

He said the insulation foam product itself is “essentially safe” if properly applied with the proper safeguards.

But he found the installer was negligent in failing to advise the Duffys they were required to be out of the house during the spraying and for at least two hours afterwards and in failing to communicate with them the potential risks and hazards involved in the product if the safeguards were not adhered to.

Patrick Duffy and his wife Anita had sued, claiming they were exposed to fumes and toxic chemicals and that they and their young daughter had to leave the dream home they had built near the sea in Donegal because they did not feel safe there.

The family now live in a mobile home.

Mr Duffy told the court all three in the family had since become incredibly sensitised to certain products and “now live in a bubble".

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The Duffys, of Meenderryowern, Annagry, Co Donegal, paid €4,000 to have the insulation installed in their home four years ago.

They had sued Brendan McGee, trading as McGee Insulation Services, of Largenreach, Downings, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, who was responsible for the installation and the application of spray foam insulation at the family home on February 18, 2016.

They had also sued GMS Insulations, of Legga, Moyne, Co Longford, which imports and supplies spray foam insulation material.

The claims were denied.

In his judgment yesterday, Mr Justice Cross found Mr and Mrs Duffy were not at any stage appraised that their absence from the house was required as a matter of personal safety for themselves and their daughter.

“I have no doubt whatsoever had they been so appraised that Mrs Duffy would have left the house with her daughter before the spraying commenced and none of the Duffys would have returned until they were assured it was safe to do so,” the judge said.

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