Thursday 22 March 2018

Promising young student sues for €5m after suffering brain damage while playing school rugby match

Court hears 18-year-old boy was instructed to play only days after suffering concussion in another game

Neville with his mother Michelle leaving the High Court where he is taking a legal action against St Michael's College and St Vincent's Hospital
Neville with his mother Michelle leaving the High Court where he is taking a legal action against St Michael's College and St Vincent's Hospital
Neville leaving the High Court where he is taking a legal action against St Michael's College and St Vincent's Hospital

A STUDENT has sued for some €5m over serious head injuries suffered playing for a few minutes at the end of a schools rugby match four years ago.

Lucas Neville (22) was called on as a sub in that game just 17 days after receiving an accidental knee in the head during rugby training, the High Court heard.

Mr Neville had acted in films from the age of six, recorded TV commercials and was on the second rugby team of St Michael's College, Ailesbury Road, Dublin, before he suffered the injuries in November 2009, the court heard.

He was an 18-year-old Leaving Certificate student when called from the bench to play the last minutes of a schools match against St Mary's Rathmines on November 28, 2009. He suffered another blow to the head during that game.

While he walked off the pitch after the match, he collapsed on the edge of the pitch and was rushed by hospital to ambulance.

His mother had told the school about him being concussed after getting the knee in the head during training on November 11, 2009 and was assured the school's protocol preventing any student with head injuries participating in contact sports for 21 days afterwards would be implemented, the court also heard.

Mr Neville believed he was on the sub's bench and would not have to play but he was asked to come on at the end of the match, his counsel Denis McCullough said.

The initial injury of November 11 had caused a chronic bleed and the second injury, a blow to his head, caused an acute bleed and the "real and substantial difficulties" suffered by Mr Neville, counsel said.

Mr Neville (22), Pembroke Lawns, Ballsbridge, Dublin, has sued the school alleging it owed him a duty of care and stood "in loco parentis" while he was engaged in sporting activities on behalf of the school.

He has also sued  a nominee of St Vincent's Healthcare Group as owner of St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin over alleged negligence in his treatment there.

Among the claims against the hospital are negligence arising from failure to carry out a CT head scan when he went to the hospital on November 15, 2011, four days after initially attending there with concussion as a result of suffering a kick to the head during rugby training.

Liability has been admitted and the case is before Mr Justice Sean Ryan for assessment of damages only.

The damages claim includes a claim for €2.6m to meet future care costs and for almost €1m for loss of earnings.

It is alleged Mr Neville, due to his injuries, will never work competitively but he is striving to do as well as he can, has completed six Leaving Certificate subjects since his surgery and hopes to study Applied Psychology.

Yesterday, the judge heard Mr Neville attended St Vincent's Hospital on November 11, 2009, after receiving an accidental kick in the head during rugby training.

A diagnosis of concussion was made and he was discharged to the care of his mother with head injury advice.

His mother, Michelle Neville, told the judge they returned to the hospital four days later because Lucas was experiencing headaches and pain in his eye and she was very concerned.

She requested a CT scan of his head but was assured that was not necessary.

A diagnosis of infective sinusitis and a sinus headache was made and he was prescribed certain medicines, discharged home with advice to return if his symptoms continued.

He remained off school that week and, before he returned to school the following week, she told the school about his symptoms and her concerns about his returning to rugby too soon.

She said she was assured the school's own protocol concerning pupils who suffered head injuries meant he would not be allowed return to contact sports for three weeks.

However, on November 28th, some 17 days after his initial injury, Lucas was asked to play at the match against St Mary's Rathmines, during which he suffered a further blow to the head.

At St James' Hospital, a head scan showed the presence of a subdural haemotoma causing shift of headline structures and evidence of transtentional herniation.

Such was the extent of his injuries he had at one stage received the last rites from a priest, Mrs Neville said.

After some days in the Intensive Care and High Dependency Units in Beaumont Hospital, he was transferred back to St Vincent's for in-patient care after which he was moved to the National Rehabilitation Hospital where he remained from February 16, 2010, to May 12, 2010.

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