Thursday 23 November 2017

Family of woman who died in freak accident when tree branch fell on her as she walked on Dublin street settle action for €400,000

Waterloo Road Credit: Google Maps
Waterloo Road Credit: Google Maps

Tim Healy

High Court judge Kevin Cross has varied an order which it was claimed had the effect of preventing the media naming of a woman who died when a tree branch fell on her during stormy weather.

Lynda Collins (45) died of injuries sustained when the branch of a chestnut tree fell on top of her on Waterloo Road, Dublin, on February 4, 2011.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Cross approved a €400,000 settlement for her family arising out of the death. 

He made orders under Section 27 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 which the media argued meant they could not publish the name of her husband and father of their three children, Richard Collins, Woodbine Avenue, Booterstown, Dublin, who brought the case on behalf of the family, or of the deceased herself.

On Friday, lawyers for Independent News and Media, the Irish Times, RTE, Associated Newspapers and the Irish Examiner, applied to the judge clarify the order.

The judge said his order did not preclude the media from naming Mr Collins.

John Maher BL, with solicitor Joe O'Malley, on behalf of the media organisations said the actual effect of the judge's order was that no member of the family could be identified.

Mr Maher said the father's name had already appeared in reports about the accident itself, the funeral, the inquest and in an interview given to the media by the father.

The judge said the effect of his order could raise difficulties in reporting the father's name and he noted the relevant law was perhaps more limited than he had allowed for in his order and that it could be strictly construed.

He agreed to vary his order permitting the naming of the father and therefore the deceased.

The branch fell on Mrs Collins as she was walking home from work.  Passers-by made frantic attempts to lift the branch off her including by using a school desk and a car jack.

The tree was located in the grounds of a building housing a school.

Mr Collins sued the property occupiers at the time, the International School of Dublin,  and the owners at the time, Emmet Memery, Northumberland Road, and Leo Mohan, Lansdowne Terrace  Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, both Dublin.  He also sued the Tom Kavanagh who had been appointed receiver over the property at the time.

The settlement was against all defendants.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to ensure the trees in the area were safe and free from defect and there was a failure to carry out an adequate, or any, inspection of the tree.

The claims were denied.

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