The State must disclose a range of documents to a former aircraft mechanic in the Air Corps who is suing it over his alleged exposure on dates during the 1990s to dangerous chemicals, the Supreme Court has ruled.
He is among several former mechanics suing over alleged exposure to dangerous chemicals and solvents during their employment.
Today, a five-judge Supreme Court gave a unanimous judgment overturning a Court of Appeal (COA) decision that Mr Tobin’s discovery application was premature.
The State denies he suffered the alleged injuries, requires him to fully prove his claims about exposure to dangerous chemicals and solvents and has also pleaded contributory negligence on his part.
In this case, no concessions of fact were made by the State defendants with the effect Mr Tobin must establish all matters relevant to his claim, he said. Had a “more nuanced” approach being taken by the defence, the discovery sought would have been reduced.
In October 2016 the High Court granted Mr Tobin an order for discovery of the chemicals he used while working at Casement Aerodrome from 1989 to 1999. He had argued that he would need a full list of the chemicals he was asked to use during his time in the Air Corps in order to make his case against the State.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott granted the discovery order in the High Court and said that “the quantities and dates of purchase and use of chemicals and mixtures and the safety data concerning their handling, application and use form a highly relevant and important part of the case”.
He further ruled that Mr Tobin “will suffer serious disadvantage in the preparation and presentation of his case if the relevant records sought under these categories are not made the subject of a discovery order”.
Today’s Supreme Court judgement was referenced in advance at a recent meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.On July 4 last, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy raised the Air Corps cases with SCA director, Ciarán Breen who said the Supreme Court ruling in the Tobin case would have implications for others to follow.
“One is in the court of appeal, and I think has been given a date for the year after next because there’s a glut of appeals in the Court of Appeal, and others are awaiting an important decision by the Supreme Court on a discovery issue,” Mr Breen had said of the status of the eight cases.