Posted: August 6th, 2019
The relatives of a 29-year old Donegal man who was killed as he was cutting down some tree at a wind farm construction site wind farm has settled various work death compensation actions for a six-figure award.
Jonathan Gormley, who was employed as a chainsaw operator was killed just prior to Christmas in 2015. Mr Gormley, the father of two young children, while cutting down trees at the construction site for the Meenadreen Wind Farm in the Barnesmore area of County Donegal.
The inquest into Mr Gormley’s death was informed that Mr Gormley was crouched down and a pine tree was across his left shoulder when he was found. It is believed that he had not been seen for almost two and a half hours before a work colleague, Joe Devaney, located him.
Mr Devaney told the inquest that he last saw Mr Gormley at approximately 11.30am or 12pm on December 21. It had been a particularly windy day. Mr Devaney called Mr Gormley’s mobile phone four times between 2.17pm and 2.36pm, but got no answer and became concerned. When found Mr Gormley he was on his knees with his helmet on and a tree down on his shoulder. He as unable to find Gormley’s pulse.
After a number of unsuccessful attempts to remove the tree he was given approval to cut the tree. Mr Gormley could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene at the accident. Medical testimony at the inquest said the cause of death was traumatic or mechanical asphyxia secondary to compression of the chest due to a fallen tree.
Mr Gormley’s partner Mairead Coughlin and his Mr Gormley’s parents took the wrongful death compensation action against Viridian Energy Ltd trading as Energia, owners of the wind farm, and Softwood Ireland Ltd
in relation to the accident on December 21, 2015.
It was claimed there was a failure to have any or any appropriate employee to co-ordinate chainsaw
work and to ensure no chainsaw worker was permitted to be completed by a one on his/her own. It was further claimed Mr Gormley had been been permitted to clear a stand of trees manually using a chainsaw in circumstances where he allegedly should have been provided with appropriate mechanical plant and equipment.
Further claims said there was a failure to ensure all chainsaw and tree-felling work was not permitted once there were gale force gusts of up to 44 knots. Due to this Mr Gormley had been permitted to work on a
day which was unsuitable for the type of work i he was trying to complete and when it was dangerous to perform chainsaw work in a stand of allegedly unstable, windblown and haphazard trees.
The claims were denied by the defendants.
Following talks between all parties, Michael Cush SC told the High Court the six-figure sum was a “global settlement figure”. Justice Garett Simons approved the settlements of the compensation actions including those for
nervous shock over the death of the father of two in Donegal in 2015 and said that it was a reasonable one.