Families Of Fishermen Who Drowned Off The Waterford Coast Settle High Court Actions

Families Of Fishermen Who Drowned Off The Waterford Coast Settle High Court Actions

Three gentleman, Paul Bolger (aged 49), Kenny Bolger (aged 47) and Shane Bolger (aged 44) lost their lives while aboard a fishing vessel known as the “MFV Dean Leanne”, which capsized off the Waterford coast near Brownstown Head on 12th June 2013. The 3 brothers had left Dunmore East that morning aboard their boat with the intention of heading down the coast to do some lobster fishing.

All 3 brothers who lost their lives were wearing life jackets.

The vessel had been fitted with a GMEMT 401 EPIRB, which was intended to raise the alarm if the boat ended up being submerged in water. The boat subsequently capsized and the EPIRB failed to transmit the alarm or raise a distress signal. The device was located and on being tested, it was found that the EPIRB was defective.

Standard Communications PTY Limited issued a global recall in respect of the EPIRB device. It is probable that had the device operated correctly, all 3 lives would have been saved, given that the location where the boat was found is in close proximity to the coast and literally a stone’s throw from Waterford Airport, from where the rescue helicopter would have been deployed.

High Court proceedings had to be instituted back in 2016 against the following companies:-

Standard Communications PTY Limited,
Braemac PTY Limited,
Cypress Semiconductor Corporation,
Sartech Engineering Limited
and Belco Marine Electronics Limited.

After 3 years of a “fight”, eventually the Defendants agreed to settle the cases.

The first case ruled before Judge Cross in the High Court in Dublin was in respect of the death of Shane Bolger and an action brought by his widow, Lucy Bolger, was settled for €250,000.00 plus legal costs.

The court also approved an offer for the partner of the late Paul Moran of 28 years, whose case was settled for €250,000.00 plus legal costs against the manufacturer and suppliers of the product.

All parties were represented by Emmet Halley, Solicitor, of M. M. Halley & Son, Presentation House, Slievekeale Road, Waterford.

These were very complex cases and all of the cases were vigorously defended for some years until eventually in 2019 overtures were received from the Defendant’s with a view to compromising the cases.

Thankfully, this brought an end to an extremely stressful time for the families, both in the early years and during the protracted length of time it took to resolve the cases.

Our legal team in M. M. Halley and Son, Solicitors, were at all times confident that the cases would be successful, and we had the benefit of the support of our Senior Counsel, Michael Counihan S.C. and Elaine Morgan S.C. fully behind us.

For the families who lost their loved ones, this at last brings some closure.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross, who approved the settlement offers to the families, extended his sympathies to the families. He in fact remembered the tragedy which was very much to the forefront of the National news at the time.

In conclusion one might well ask the question, why was there not a more forthright effort made by the Defendants to get to grips with this tragedy at an early stage, in circumstances where 3 brothers lost

their lives and where there was uncontroverted evidence that the EPIRB device was found to be defective? Why would there have been a recall of this product unless there was something wrong with it?

It beggars belief in this day and age that these families should have been subjected to such a long and protracted Court case.