Value of Compensation Settlement for Hepatitis C Increased after Appeal

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A judge in Dublin’s High Court has increased the value of a compensation settlement that was previously decided by a tribunal after hearing testimony from a woman who developed encephalopathy during an appeal.

The woman, who remains anonymous, was representative of thousands of women who, in 1977, were given an anti-D immunoglobulin blood transfusion that had been infected with Hepatitis C. The case was initially settled in 1988, when the woman in question was given €298,000 by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal, though she returned to the tribunal earlier this year in the hope of gaining more compensation to account for the fact that she developed “life destroying” cirrhosis of the liver and brain damage.

The Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal increased the award made to the anonymous woman by €180,000. However, the previous case had been settled for €250,000 when a woman have suffered similar injuries and as such the plaintiff appealed the decision. The case then went to the High Court, where it was opposed by the Minister for Health, emphasising any difference between the two cases, claiming that the woman in question had received treatment for Hepatitis C before the diagnosis of her condition.

However, Mr Justice Bernard Barton was told at the High Court of the woman’s “decompensated cirrhosis”, and how it was caused by ribavirin therapy she had undergone in 2013 to treat the Hepatitis C virus. Tests had shown that her liver had seriously deteriorated in condition.

Evidence was also given of the woman’s encephalopathy, which developed as a result of her treatment. Now, the woman suffers from unclear speech and absent-mindedness. The condition can be treated, though it requires ongoing care, and has caused the woman severe mental anguish.

Judge Barton said that the High Court had adequate jurisdiction to compensate the woman for the trauma she sustained after her treatment two years ago, claiming that it was “only fair and reasonable” that the award made by the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal was increased to €250,000 to account for the fact the woman can no longer live a full life.