Family of welder who died at Dublin Port settles action for €1.25m

17 February 2022

The family of a welder who died when a steel column fell on him as he worked at Dublin Port has settled for a total of over €1.25 million a number of High Court actions over his death.

James Byrne was killed instantly on June 6th, 2018, when the six-foot column fell on top of him shortly after he had been using a blow torch to separate it from a larger metal structure.

In the High Court on Tuesday his partner Paula Murray, Griffeen Glen Dene, Lucan, Co Dublin, and their two sons Nathan (21) and Callum (13) settled an action over his death and also a number of nervous shock actions.

The settlements which in the case of Paula Murray comes to a total of €1.1 million and a total of €150,000 in relation to her sons is against Mr Byrne’s employer Doyle Shipping Group Unlimited Company with a registered address at Ocean Pier, Alexandra Road, Dublin 1.

Two years ago the shipping company was fined €850,000 when it pleaded guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to manage work activities, specifically the dismantling of a steel hopper at the McKearns Yard at Ocean Pier in a way to ensure the safety and health of its employees as a consequence of which Mr Byrne suffered personal injury and died.

Support bars

The court heard Mr Byrne, an experienced welder had dismantled two six-metre upright support bars from a metal lattice the day before. On the day of the accident, he was working on a third support bar and had to use a blow torch to cut through the part of the bar welded to the grid.

He stood up and as he walked towards his van the column fell over striking Mr Byrne on the head.

In the High Court on Tuesday, the Byrne Murray family counsel John Healy SC with Eugene Gleeson SC told the court Mr Byrne was only 39 years of age when he died.

Paula Murray had sued her partner’s employer Doyle Shipping Group Unlimited.

She claimed there was an alleged failure to provide a safe system of work and an alleged failure to ensure the site was maintained in a safe condition and was free from dangers.

The court heard there was an admission of liability in relation to a breach of duty.

Mental distress

Mr Justice Paul Coffey noted and approved the settlements and a division of €35,000 solatium, a statutory mental distress payment. The judge extended his deep sympathy to Ms Murray and her sons on “this very sad and tragic case.”.

The judge who imposed the fine on Doyle Shipping Group, Judge Pauline Codd said the employer breached its obligation to ensure employees are not put at unnecessary hazard. She said the absence of planning the task meant that equipment was not utilised as it should have been.

The judge said the mitigating factors in the case were the guilty pleas the co-operation with the accident investigation and the good safety record as well as the significant expenditure to ensure it did not happen again.

At the time in a statement outside the court, Ms Murray said her family would never get over the loss of James.

“He will never be replaced and will always be in our hearts,” she added.

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