Meat plant operator to contest former employee’s personal injury claim over contracting Covid

person holding covid sign

5 February 2024

A Tipperary meat plant operator is contesting a personal injuries action brought by a former employee who claims he contracted Covid-19 while at work, the High Court has heard.

Paul Feighery, who nearly died after contracting the virus, is suing Rosderra Irish Meats Group Unlimited Company, claiming it was negligent in allegedly permitting him to contract Covid while he worked as a packer at the factory during March 2020.

His barrister, Gavin Miller, told the court on Thursday that the defendant denies his client contracted the virus at its premises and maintains it acted reasonably at all times. His client has been put on “full proof” of the claim, he said.

Mr Feighery, of Shinrone, Birr, Co Offaly, has diabetes and was 61 when he felt ill on March 19th, 2020.

His health rapidly deteriorated, and he was admitted to hospital, where he spent more than two weeks on a ventilator before being discharged in May 2020.

Mr Miller, instructed by Deirdre K Ryan & Co Solicitors, said his client continues to suffer with symptoms of long Covid and took early retirement.

The case came before Deputy Master John Glennon on Thursday to resolve a dispute between the parties about the amount of documents Rosderra must provide to Mr Feighery’s legal team ahead of trial.

Agreement had been reached regarding some record categories, but others required ruling as to their scope and relevance.

Counsel for Rosderra said her client has already handed over a significant volume of documents, including all those relating to his medical records, all risk assessments for the relevant period, and notes about a meeting with his supervisor and the risk Covid posed to him.

Elements of the document request were “far too broad” and amounted to “fishing”,  she claimed.

Mr Miller said the defendant has “dragged” its heels on the issues, which required him to issue court motions. He said a defence delivered by Rosderra was “little more than a traverse” of the plaintiff’s claim.

Deputy Master Glennon said this was the first Covid-related personal injuries case that has come before him.

Considering one of the categories, concerning discussions with employees about Covid in the early days of the pandemic, the deputy master said disclosure of this might usually be considered “disproportionate”.

However, in the particular circumstances, he felt it was correct to share the records.

He gave Rosderra 16 weeks to release the records he determined were relevant to the claim.

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