Ireland

Family of factory worker who died of lung disease settles case for €375,000

The family of a man who worked in the production of chewing gum and who it is alleged inhaled chemical dust and later contracted lung disease and died has settled a High Court action against his employer for €375,000.

Father of two Gerard Hanratty had been a senior operator and factory worker for 15 years before his death in 2013.

His wife and children this week settled a High Court action in relation to the 55-year-old’s death. The claims were all denied in the case.

June Hanratty, Ballinclea Heights, Killiney, Co Dublin had sued Kraft Foods Ltd, Cadbury Adams and Mondelez Ireland Production Ltd.

In an affidavit to the High Court Mrs Hanratty said at the time of his death her husband was employed as a senior operator in the defendant’s factory unit at South City Business Park, Tallaght, Dublin.

She said he had worked at the factory for about 15 years.

Sweetener claim

It is claimed that from 2005 onwards the production of chewing gum took place, and it was allegedly part of Mr Hanratty’s duties to mix powdered Aspartame, an artificial sweetener with Polyvinylalcohol and talc.

It was claimed this was part of the production process of chewing gum and to do this Mr Hanratty was allegedly required to open 25kg boxes containing inner sealed plastic bags of Aspartame, split the plastic bag and empty the contents into a hopper on a sweetener loader unit.

Mrs Hanratty in her affidavit said as a result of the work Mr Hanratty allegedly “inhaled injurious quantities of the toxic chemical dust including Aspartame” and due to this alleged “sustained dust exposure” he allegedly contracted lung disease with alleged superimposed acute lung injury and died on August 23rd, 2013.

The claims were denied and Mr Justice Garrett Simons was told a full defence was filed in the case where all claims were denied and it was contended that the Hanratty claim was statute barred.

The court hard a separate action by Mrs Hanratty for nervous shock over her husband’s death was settled against the defendants two years ago.

Mr Justice Simons approved the €375,000 settlement figure.

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