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Settlement for submariner who suffered PTSD following an explosion


Paul Kilcoyne, instructed by Barry Bayley of Wolferstans LLP, represented a submariner in his claim against the Ministry of Defence. Richard Boyle represented the Ministry of Defence (“MoD”).

The Claimant attended the aftermath of an explosion in which other submariners had been injured. He was involved in the recovery following the explosion and remained on the submarine when it returned to port in a damaged state. The Claimant did not report any psychiatric symptoms in the immediate aftermath of the explosion however, around five years later, he reported psychiatric symptoms to an MoD Community Psychiatric Nurse (“CPN”). The CPN attributed those symptoms to homesickness and work stress and so the Claimant did not receive any further treatment. Three years later, the Claimant took part in a re-enactment of the explosion for training purposes. This led to the exacerbation or onset of his PTSD. The Claimant received further treatment for PTSD but complained that there had been a delay in providing evidence based treatment (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing [“EMDR”]).

The Claimant claimed breaches of duty in respect of the explosion itself, the treatment by the CPN, the fact that the Claimant was subjected to the re-enactment and the delay in providing EMDR. The Defendant denied liability, submitting that the claim in relation to the explosion was out of time, the CPN’s diagnosis was reasonable given the issues reported by the Claimant, there were no indicators that the Claimant should not carry out the re-enactment and that there was no substantial delay in providing EMDR. The Defendant also argued that the Claimant did not have PTSD until well after the appointment with the CPN. There were issues in relation to quantum, principally concerning the Claimant’s likely uninjured naval career, his likely employment following an uninjured naval career and his likely actual career following his medical discharge.

Paul and Richard represented their clients at a JSM and were able to settle the case.

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Richard Boyle

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