Family of factory worker who died of lung disease settles case for €375,000

Lung Disease

21 July 2021

The family of a man who allegedly inhaled chemical dust while working in the production of chewing gum and later died of lung disease, has settled a High Court action against his employer for €375,000.

Gerard Hanratty (55), a father of two, had worked for 15 years as a senior operator and factory worker until his death in 2013.

His wife and children this week settled their action in relation to his death.

June Hanratty, Ballinclea Heights, Killiney, Co Dublin, had sued Kraft Foods Ltd, Cadbury Adams and Mondelez Ireland Production Ltd.

The claims were all denied.

In an affidavit, Mrs Hanratty said, at the time of his death, her husband was employed as a senior operator in the defendants’ factory unit at South City Business Park, Tallaght, Dublin, and had worked there for about 15 years.

Aspartame claim

It was claimed, from 2005 onwards, the production of chewing gum took place and it was allegedly part of Mr Hanratty’s duties to mix powdered aspartame, an artificial sweetener, with polyvinylalcohol and talc.

It was claimed this was part of the production process of chewing gum and to do this Mr Hanratty was allegedly required to open 25kg boxes containing inner sealed plastic bags of aspartame, split the plastic bag and empty the contents into a hopper on a sweetener loader unit.

It was claimed, as a result of the work, he “inhaled injurious quantities of the toxic chemical dust, including aspartame” and, due to this alleged “sustained dust exposure”, allegedly contracted lung disease with alleged superimposed acute lung injury and died on August 23rd, 2013.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons was told a full defence was filed in the case where all claims were denied and it was contended the case was statute barred.

The court heard a separate action by Mrs Hanratty for nervous shock over her husband’s death was settled against the defendants two years ago.

Mr Justice Simons approved the €375,000 settlement figure.

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