Thursday 22 March 2018

Man suing prison service over cancer settles case

Tim Healy

A MAN who claimed he was deprived of a possible chance to cure his cancer after the prison services failed to refer him to a consultant following blood tests today settled his High Court action for damages.

Michael Leonard (54) of Nadd, Banteer, Co Cork brought the action afterhe claimed there was, as a result, a delay of two years in the diagnosis of his prostate cancer and he is now dying.

The father of five was serving a six month prison sentence in Cork Prison for driving a car while disqualified when he had a blood test in 2007. The High Court heard that the test showed an elevated level of prostrate specific antigen.(PSA) A high level of PSA can be a sign of cancer.

His Counsel Dr John O'Mahony, SC said as a result of the high PSA level appropriate steps should have been taken and a biopsy should have been carried out of the prostrate.

Counsel said there was a delay of two years before cancer was diagnosed in Mr Leonard when he was admitted to Mallow General Hospital in 2009.

Dr O'Mahony said there was a gap of two years in which nothing was done and had Mr Leonard been diagnosed and treated in 2007 there was a possibility he could have been cured.

Mr Leonard sued the Irish Prison Services the Minister for Justice and the State for alleged negligence and breach of duty.

At the start of the case before Mr Justice Sean Ryan today, the court heard the State defendants conceded there was a breach of duty in failing to refer Mr Leonard for consultant care but in its defence it claimed Mr Leonard was aware of the abnormal test and failed to take appropriate measures to protect his own health.

Opening the case Dr O'Mahony SC said it was sad and tragic. He said while in Cork Prison Mr Leonard had a blood test which revealed his PSA level was elevated. Counsel said Mr Leonard who was transferred to Shelton Abbey open prison was advised he had a raised PSA but he did not know what a PSA was.

Unfortunately, Counsel said, the story is very sad and the outlook for Mr Leonard is black and depressing.

"There was a vauluable opportunity lost that may have yielded a cure," Counsel said.

Once Mr Leonard was diagnosed in 2009, Counsel said with treatment there was a dramatic decrease in the PSA in the blood. If there had been an opportunity of this treatment in the two years prior, Counsel said it could have been fundamentally different in terms of life quality and quantity.

Counsel said after the Cork Prison test there should have been a repeat test four weeks later.

"If there had been the red lights would have flashed," Counsel said.

When Mr Leonard had another blood test in 2009 there was Counsel said "an explosive rise" in the PSA level.

"He is going to die . The date of death can't be defined precisely.

The stars are not looking good for him. He has a lot of pain. The future is very black and dark for him. All his hopes for the future have faded into the dim twilight. He is getting ready for the exit date," Counsel added.

After negotiations between both sides, Mr Justice Ryan was told that the case had been settled. The Judge wished Mr Leonard the very best and said he knew he had a difficult situation.

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