A woman has been awarded €275,703 after suffering an injury to her shoulder and neck due to a metal container falling from a defective roller trolley at a contact lens factory. Margaret Reid, a 62-year-old mother of four from Kilmacow, Co Kilkenny, took legal action against Valeant Pharmaceuticals Ireland over the incident that occurred at its Bausch and Lomb factory in Waterford on May 30th, 2015. Valeant denied negligence and claimed that Reid had exaggerated and misstated her injuries.
During the trial, it was revealed that Reid’s job involved operating machines that manufacture contact lenses in the injection moulding department. On the day of the accident, she was moving blocks of lens moulds known as “towers” on a large, wheeled trolley when one of the towers fell and struck her right shoulder. Reid testified that her injuries significantly impacted her independence and mental health, as she had to rely on others for transportation and experienced chronic pain.
In a recent judgment, Mr Justice Mícheál P O’Higgins found Valeant liable for the accident. Expert evidence presented during the trial suggested that the company should have taken proactive measures to reduce the risk of safety stoppers on the trolley failing. Medical evidence also indicated that Reid developed musculoskeletal and neuropathic pain, requiring surgery. Complications arose after the surgery, resulting in vocal cord palsy.
While the judge acknowledged that Reid may have overestimated the extent of her injuries in certain respects, he believed she was an honest witness who genuinely believed her functional limitations were severe. He noted that her perception of her injuries became distorted over time, possibly due to unresolved childhood issues or pre-existing psychiatric difficulties associated with the loss of her mother.
The judge emphasized the significant impact the accident had on Reid’s daily life and her efforts to seek medical treatment, spending approximately €50,000 out of pocket. Considering all factors, he awarded her €225,000 in general damages and €50,703 for medical bills, totaling €275,703.
This case highlights the importance of workplace safety and the potential long-term consequences of accidents. It also underscores the need for employers to take proactive measures to prevent such incidents and support employees in their recovery.