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Army deafness bill to taxpayer is slashed from €1bn to €300m

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  • Army deafness bill to taxpayer is slashed from €1bn to €300m

    Army deafness bill to taxpayer is slashed from €1bn to €300m
    The Irish Independent
    Allison Bray
    TAXPAYERS will be paying out approximately €300m for army deafness claims rather than the €1bn previously estimated, Defence Minister Michael Smith said yesterday.

    The State has paid out more than €269m in awards to date, including €89m in court costs, arising out of 14,650 cases.

    The actions were taken by current and former soldiers who claim they suffered varying degrees of hearing loss from exposure to gunfire while serving in the Armed Forces.

    Although none of the claimants have gone completely deaf, many have complained of constant ringing in the ear, hearing loss and other hearing-related problems, according to the soldiers association PDFORRA.

    Many of the claims relate to damage done before 1987 when the wearing of protective hearing devices were not mandatory, a spokesman said.

    Another 1,985 cases are outstanding while 67 cases have been dismissed and 590 cases have been withdrawn for reasons ranging from death of the claimant to lack of evidence to support claims.

    The average payout when the compensation claims were lodged over a decade ago was about €30,000 but it is now down to €8,900 from an average of €10,000 last year.

    The minister attributed Ireland's "compo culture" for being partly responsible for the high awards initially. The large number of claims and costs also upped the costs, he said.

    A spokesman for the minister said: "From the start, the State faced two fundamental problems in the army hearing loss litigation: the first was the difficulty of assessing objectively the disability suffered by each individual as a result of their hearing loss, which made it difficult to identify exaggerated claims to the satisfaction of the courts.

    "The second was the very large number of claims and their associated costs."

    While conceding that the current cost estimates "is still a very significant outturn", the minister said every effort is being made to limit future awards.

    Plaintiffs who fail in their compensation bids now face the prospect of paying court costs, which has reduced the number of new claims received from 11 to four per week, the spokesman said.

    He also attributed the Early Settlement Scheme for being partly responsible for the reduction in costs.

    The scheme was established by the Defence Department and the Law Society of Ireland to speed up the claims process.

    Some 5,500 claims have been settled to date as part of the scheme.

  • #2
    those cases were a laugh...EVERYONE in the DF who was eligable got in on the action...both my mom and dad got money out of claims (both out of court settlements) and almost all my uncles and cousins who are/were in the army...of course they brought it on themselves by not paying for simple ear protection which would have cost less than a million to purchase for every member of the DF...


    • #3
      It's called spend a tenner to save a fiver, I think you'll find that its effectively departmental policy at this point.
      "It is a general popular error to imagine that loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for it's welfare" Edmund Burke