Hanrahan v Merck Sharp Dohme (Ireland) Ltd

CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date01 January 1988
Date01 January 1988
Merck Sharp & Dohme (Ireland) Ltd

Whether emissions shown to be cause of injuries claimed to have been suffered - Onus of proof - Whether defendants under obligation to disprove plaintiffs' claim in nuisance - Whether plaintiffs' onus at common law amounts to failure to vindicate property rights - Whether proof of offensive smells may support claim in nuisance - Whether interference with property beyond what was reasonable - Whether on balance of probabilities medical evidence corroborated plaintiffs' claims - Injuries to animals - Whether caused by factory emissions - Damage to plant life - Whether caused by factory emissions - Constitution of Ireland,1937, Art. 40.3. Practice - Appeal - Supreme Court - Function of Court - Primary and secondary facts - Whether Supreme Court empowered to reach different conclusions to those of trial court in relation to inferences from primary facts.

The plaintiffs farmed land which was situated about one mile from the defendants' factory, which opened in 1976. The factory engaged in the processing of pharmaceutical products, which involved the storage and use of large quantities of toxic substances as well as the disposal in the factory of toxic and dangerous chemical residues. The plaintiffs instituted proceedings claiming that by virtue of the manner in which the defendants conducted their operation from 1978 to 1983 the plaintiffs and their farm animals, as well as plant life on the farm, suffered severe injuries and damage. The plaintiffs' claim was dismissed in the High Court (Unreported, Keane J., 7 August 1985). On appeal by the plaintiffs, it was Held by the Supreme Court (Finlay C.J., Henchy and Hederman JJ.) in allowing the appeal, 1, although the plaintiffs had grounded their claim in negligence as well as on the rule in Rylands v. Fletcher and also in nuisance, the matter had been dealt with in the High Court as a claim in nuisance; and since it had not been contended that the trial judge had erred in this respect, the claim would be treated as one in nuisance. 2. The plaintiffs were not required to prove want of due care by the defendants in the manner in which they conducted their operation at the factory, and it was sufficient for the claim in nuisance to succeed that they establish that they had not enjoyed the comfortable and healthy use of their land to the degree that would be expected by an ordinary person whose requirements are objectively reasonable in all the...

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97 cases
  • Jordan v Minister for Children and Youth Affairs
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 24 Abril 2015
    ...the onus of proof as a matter of fundamental fairness to the appellant deriving from the observations of this Court in Hanrahan v. Merck Sharpe & Dohme Ireland Ltd. [1988] ILRM 629, which held the exception to prove all the necessary ingredients of a tort may be raised where a particular e......
  • Smyth & Smyth (plaintiffs) v Railway Procurement Agency & Others
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  • Lindsay v Mid Western Health Board
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 1 Enero 1993
    ...1 I.R. 59; Scott v. London and St. Katherine Docks Co.ENR (1865) 3 H. & C. 596 and Hanrahan v. Merck, Sharp & Dohme (Ireland) Ltd.DLRM [1988] ILRM 629 applied. 4. That, in the case of medical negligence, the requisite degree of control could be established only if all the medical personnel ......
  • Daly v Judge John Coughlan
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    • High Court
    • 10 Marzo 2006
    ...1851 S33 DCR 1997 O.26 r11 BRENNAN v WINDLE & ORS 2003 3 IR 494 BYRNE v GREY & IRELAND & AG 1988 IR 31 HANRAHAN v MERCK SHARP & DOHME 1988 ILRM 629 MCCARTHY, STATE v GOVERNOR OF MOUNTJOY PRISON 1997 2 ILRM 361 DCR 1948 r78 HOLLAND, STATE v KENNEDY 1977 IR 193 CHILDREN ACT 1908 S102(3) O'......
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5 books & journal articles
  • If 'Mum' is the Word, is it the Law? Irish Privacy Law: A Comparative Perspective
    • Ireland
    • Trinity College Law Review Nbr. XX-2017, January 2017
    • 1 Enero 2017
    ...Hanahoe v Hussey [1998] 3 IR 69. 178 ibid [87]. 179 ibid [89]. 180 See n 143. 181 Meskell (n 141); Hanrahan v Merck Sharpe and Dohme [1988] ILRM 629. 182 Delany and Carolan (n 160) 213. Trinity College Law Review [Vol 20 unless explicitly authorised by the legislature. 183 Although it is ar......
  • Constitutionalising the Tort of Defamation - Bunreacht na Heireann as a Framework for the Reform of Ireland's Libel Laws
    • Ireland
    • Trinity College Law Review Nbr. V-2002, January 2002
    • 1 Enero 2002
    ...the shape of the tort might fail in a fundamental way to protect a defendant's constitutional 39 Hanrahan v. Merck, Sharpe & Dohme [1988] ILRM 629. "Hanrahan v. Merck, Sharpe & Dohme [1988] ILRM 629, at 636. 41 In his judgment in Sweeney v. Duggan 119911 2 IR 274, Barron J. did appear to ac......
  • Lateral Thinking: Justifying the Horizontal Application of Constitutional rights
    • Ireland
    • Trinity College Law Review Nbr. XXI-2018, January 2018
    • 1 Enero 2018
    ...observes, applying all the constitutional norms that 10 ibid 222. 11 Sullivan v Boylan (No 2) [2013] IEHC 104, [2013] 1 IR 510, [24]. 12 [1988] ILRM 629. 13 ibid; W v Ireland (No 2) [1972] IR 241. This question has also been the focus of the academic commentary on this issue, see William Bi......
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    • 1 Enero 2004
    ...see Day, M., “Cancer: Proving the Causal Link, Tobacco, Radiation and Environmental Pollution” (1998) 66 Medico-Legal Journal, 141. 13 [1988] I.L.R.M. 629 14 [1996] Env. L.R. 158 (Q.B.D.). 15 See further Woolley, D., et al, Environmental Law (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000), p. 712. ......
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