Andaloc v Iarnród Éireann/Irish Rail and Others

JurisdictionIreland
CourtHigh Court
JudgeMr. Justice Tony Hunt
Judgment Date10 December 2014
Neutral Citation[2014] IEHC 637
Docket Number[2010 No. 1114 P]
Date10 December 2014

[2014] IEHC 637

THE HIGH COURT

Record no. No.1114P/2010
Andaloc v Iarnrod Eireann/Irish Rail & Ors

BETWEEN

Sheila Andaloc
Plaintiff

AND

Iarnrod Eireann/Irish Rail Federal Security Services Limited (in receivership) Caraher and Ward Limited
Defendants

Tort – Negligence– Personal injury – Severe injuries suffered by plaintiff"s husband following accident – Whether respondents liable for damages to plaintiff due to loss of consortium and servitium

Facts: The plaintiff"s husband had been injured in an accident whilst working as a security guard, and had suffered severe brain injuries. The plaintiff had separated from the husband, contending that the accident and resulting injuries had been the cause of the separation, and now sought damages from the respondents.

Mr Justice Hunt stated the basis of the plaintiff"s action for loss of consortium and servitium had been confirmed in the decision of McKinley v The Minister for Defence and others [1992] 2 IR 333. Considering the evidence, and the principles applicable to the type of claim, the Court was satisfied that the plaintiff had made out her claim sufficiently to succeed on liability. On damages the Court was satisfied a slight reduction in the damages to be granted was appropriate due to the circumstances of the case.

Pleadings
1

The plaintiffs claim in this case, as set out in the Plenary Summons, is for damages for loss of consortium and servitium suffered by her by reason of the negligence, breach of duty and breach of statutory duty of the defendants, in causing serious personal injury to her husband.

2

More detail is provided in the Statement of Claim, which was delivered on 8 February 2010. This sets out details of the incident that caused serious injury to the plaintiff's husband, and paragraph 6 claims as follows:-

"As a consequence of the aforementioned accident, Benjie Andaloc suffered serious physical injury as well as a traumatic brain injury which in turn caused him to have a significant change in personality. Due to the foregoing, the plaintiff has suffered loss of consortium and servitium."

3

The Particulars of Personal Injury specifically claim that:-

"As a consequence of the permanent brain damage and associated change of personality suffered by her husband, the plaintiff's marriage to Benjie Andaloc came to an end and he ultimately moved out of the family home in February 2008 and thereafter he was made a Ward of Court."

4

These pleas are interpreted as amounting to an allegation that the breakdown of the plaintiff's marriage was caused by the negligence of the Defendants.

5

The Defence puts all matters in issue, but contains a number of specific pleas and denials, not all of which were pursued by the defendants at the hearing. Paragraph 4 is of particular relevance, and asserts that any loss of consortium or servitium suffered by the plaintiff is as a result of the institution and prosecution of matrimonial proceedings by her against her husband, and not otherwise. Paragraph 5 pleads that in these circumstances, the losses claimed by the plaintiff are referable to her own acts and deeds, were not reasonably foreseeable, and give rise to no liability on the part of the defendants. Paragraph 6 pleads that any economic loss to the plaintiff or actual or prospective change in economic circumstances are or will be referable to orders made or to be made in the matrimonial proceedings and not otherwise. This paragraph also refers to the compromise of Mr. Andaloc's proceedings against the defendants in July 2010 by his wardship committee.

Issues
6

On the basis of these pleadings, the central liability issue in this case is the factual and legal causation of the marital breakdown between the plaintiff and Benjie Andaloc. If the plaintiff succeeds in holding the defendants legally responsible for that breakdown and the consequences thereof, further issues arise as to the recoverability and assessment of damages.

Evidence
7

Two witnesses gave oral evidence, the plaintiff Sheila Andaloc, and her daughter Shane Andaloc. On observation of their demeanour and evaluation of the content of their evidence, both were found to be credible and truthful witnesses, and their evidence establishes the facts asserted by them beyond the balance of probabilities. In the case of the plaintiff, her credibility is supported by the fact that she readily volunteered and did not dispute intimate matters which were probably only known to her and her husband, even where those matters might reasonably be regarded as damaging to her claim in this case.

Evidence pertaining to causation and liability
8

The plaintiff and her husband are natives of the Philippines, and married there in 1985. They have four children, all born in the Philippines. Mr. Andaloc worked as a policeman, and also did part-time security work. At some point in the mid-1990s, Mr. Andaloc became involved with another woman. This liaison produced a baby boy in January 1997. Mr. Andaloc confessed the fact of the pregnancy to his wife, who apparently had a discussion with the other woman involved in 1996, who indicated that she intended to return to a neighbouring city. Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Andaloc's child Nico has considerable congenital disabilities affecting his eyesight and mental faculties. Nico's mother has apparently married since, and had three other children, all of whom suffer from similar unfortunate difficulties. From 1997 to 2002, the plaintiff described that she and her husband did their best to keep the family intact.

9

In assessing the probable cause of the marital breakdown, considerable significance is attributed to the fact that these events did not act to sever the plaintiff's marriage, as they might have done in other marriages. On the contrary, not only did this marriage subsist, but when Mr. Andaloc moved to Ireland for work in 2002, not only did he decide not to plough his own furrow in this country, as he might have done if he intended to liberate himself from his wife at that time, he was reunited with his wife here in 2003, and with his four children in 2004. These events provide a useful measure for examination of probabilities arising from subsequent events.

10

It is a reasonable inference from the relocation of his wife and children to join him in Ireland that Mr. Andaloc both desired and facilitated this move. An inference is also drawn from these facts to the effect that up to 2004 there was considerable strength in the Andaloc marriage, which had by then survived two events that might each have caused a breach in a weaker arrangement. This inference is also supported by the fact that the plaintiff gave uncontradicted evidence that she and her husband had enjoyed a full and normal marital relationship up to the date of his accident in December 2005.

11

Mr. Andaloc commenced work here with a security company, and the plaintiff took up employment as a cleaner in a nursing home. The family resided in Maynooth. She continues in this employment, and all four children of the marriage have studied and worked at various times since their arrival in this country. The plaintiff described their arrival here as "a dream come true at first." She stated that Mr. Andaloc was a good father, who worked nights, cooked breakfast when he came home, brought the children to school and then slept before preparing dinner for the children when they came home from school. She worked days, and Mr Andaloc always had dinner ready when she arrived home in the evening. As the plaintiff did not have a driving licence at the time, Mr. Andaloc did all the driving, as well as being good at house repairs and gardening. She described him as a sociable man who particularly enjoyed a few drinks and parties involving Filipino families. Both the plaintiff and her daughter described Mr. Andaloc as being a committed father who had a good relationship with his children prior to his accident.

12

That is not to say that this marriage was in a pristine condition at the time of the accident in December 2005. The plaintiff conceded that she had a "one night thing" with another man at an unspecified point in time. She also recounted that Mr. Andaloc went to the Philippines on a holiday in February 2005, which also had the purpose of ordering affairs concerning his child Nico, who apparently required a birth certificate before he was able to attend school. He had discussed these matters with the plaintiff prior to his departure, but when Mr. Andaloc returned from this trip, he informed there his wife that he had consulted a lawyer in the Philippines, and that he wished to be separated from her. This incident apparently took place in March 2005, but the plaintiff stated that she never subsequently received any paperwork from a lawyer, and described that "this was my husband's way of hurting me".

13

Thereafter, they continued to live in one house, slept together in the same bed and the plaintiff described enjoying normal sexual relations with her husband, who had resumed his work and usual routines with the children. There is no evidence or suggestion that there was any further mention of, or action concerning, the separation previously mooted by him. However, the plaintiff also referred to the fact that she did have rows with her husband during that period, a fact also confirmed by her daughter, who stated that they were having the kind of difficulties that she came understand herself as she grew older. This is interpreted as meaning that the marriage was subject to ongoing stresses and strains from time to time.

14

The plaintiff also described a further incident in or about September 2005, whereby she described examining the messages on her husband's mobile phone, to discover that Nico was staying with his grandparents, and her mother-in-law had asked her husband for...

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