A woman claims she suffered chronic carbon monoxide poisoning due to an alleged oil leak in her new €45,000 car, the High Court heard.
Solicitor Helen Noble, a mother of two, is suing for alleged injuries arising out of her use of the BMW Mini Clubman car.
She used the car, bought for €45,362 under a hire purchase agreement, for her three-hour commute from her Co Wicklow home to work in Dublin city.
She told the court yesterday she suffered headaches, dizzy spells, nausea, slurred speech and her eyelashes and hair fell out over a three year period during which she used the car for her daily 76km round trip.
"It was the most harrowing horrible experience of my life . I missed out on a couple of years of my childrens' lives. It was a horrendous couple of years." she said
Ms Noble (42), Killballyowen, Aughrim, has sued Motor Import Ltd, trading as Frank Keane (Naas Road) Dublin, as well as BMW AG, of Munich, Germany, and Permanent TSB which handled the hire-purchase agreement.
The defendants deny any liability.
In her action, Ms Noble claims she was repeatedly subjected to noxious gases and alleged carbon monoxide poisoning.
In her case against Motor Import Ltd and BMW, she claims she was acting as a consumer when she bought the car from the Frank Keane premises on August 14, 2008.
The cash price was €37,406, the initial payment was €7,693 and total payment was some €45,362 via 48 monthly instalments of €588 and a final payment of €9,320, she claims.
She also alleges she validly rescinded her hire purchase agreement with Permanent TSB under which she had paid €22,932, plus the initial payment of €7,693.
Opening the case, Jim O'Callaghan SC said in July 2011 Ms Noble's husband Mike saw a significant collection of black soot on the engine when he went to put water in the car. At a garage they were told the turbo charger was leaking.
It is contended Ms Noble was exposed to untreated diesel fumes as the fumes had not gone through the catalytic converter, counsel said.
Documents in the case would show it had emerged there had been complaints within the EU related to that model of car including leaking from the turbo charger and a build-up of soot on the engine as well as leaks in to the passenger compartment, counsel said.
In evidence Ms Noble, who specialises in maritime law, said after using the car for a time, she noticed she was a lot more tired.
She did not have "the same get up and go" and increasingly would fall asleep once she got home.
Over 2008 and 2009, her eyelashes began to fall out.
After becoming extremely unwell in November 2009, she attended hospital with dizziness and other symptoms.
She also suffered headaches and had anaemia. She was out of work for a while in March 2011 and referred for gynaecological assessment.
She underwent a procedure, which meant she could have no more children. She said after she he returned to work, she had the same symptoms as before.
After her husband noticed the build up of soot on the engine, and they were told there was a leak from the turbo charger, she said she contacted her GP.
The GP believed the inhalation of raw diesel fumes could have caused all of her symptoms she said.
"It was the most sickening moment. I now knew I was not going bonkers. I never drove the car again," she said.
She had "a horrendous couple of years" during which she was aware that while at work, her speech was slurred.
"It was professionally embarrassing, people think you were out on a big one the night before."
Oonah McCrann SC for the defendants said engineering evidence would show the only gas entering the passenger compartment was oxygen, and that if carbon monoxide was entering as claimed, there would be a smell of diesel fumes.
The case continues before Mr Justice Michael White.