Sunday 15 September 2019

Woman suing over alleged failure to pay out income protection insurance 'exaggerated symptoms', court told


Tim Healy

A WOMAN has brought a legal action over an alleged failure to pay out income protection payments under an insurance policy.

Rose Prendergast (aged 64) had to stop working at the Baxter Healthcare factory,  Castlebar, Co Mayo, in 2002 due to health problems, including pain in her leg back and neck.

The court heard she was diagnosed with a condition known as Fibromyalgia (FM), a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain.

She was never able to return to work and in agreement with the company in 2008 her employment was terminated.

She sought benefits under the terms of a group income protection plan Baxter had with Irish Life.

She claims her application to be paid under the terms of that group policy were refused.

Mrs Prendergast of Newtown, Clogher, Claremorris, Co Mayo, claims she is entitled to be paid under the scheme and has sued Baxter Healthcare and Irish Life Insurance.

Represented by John Jordan SC, she seeks orders for the specific performance of Baxter's income protection plan which was underwritten by the insurer. 

She also seeks damages for alleged breach of contract and misrepresentation.

The claims are denied.

Gabriel Gavigan SC, for Baxter, said Mrs Prendergast has no claim against his client.    The company did everything it could to process her claim under the income protection plan.

Ultimately it was a decision by the insurer to refuse her claim, counsel said.

Baxter have also sought to be indemnified by Irish Life against Mrs' Prendergast's claim.

Irish Life, represented by James Devlin SC, rejected allegations it had been negligent in refusing her claim.

The court also heard a report complied on Irish Life's behalf by a health care professional suggested she had exaggerated her symptoms.  

Mrs Prendergast says medical evidence showed she suffered from chronic pain and other conditions, and she was not able to return to work in any capacity. She did not exaggerate her illnesses, the court was told.

Mrs Prendergast told the court she remains in pain and requires medication. She started working at Baxter in the early 1990's. She first experienced problems in the mid-nineties had to stop in 2002 due to the pain.

The case continues before Mr Justice Donald Binchy.

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