herald

Monday 18 December 2017

€18k compo for Voice of Ireland singer who claimed to be 'crippled'

John McCormack leaves court after his damages award. Photo: COLLINS
John McCormack leaves court after his damages award. Photo: COLLINS

A musician, who appeared on RTE's The Voice Of Ireland while claiming he was permanently crippled in a car crash, has been awarded €18,000 in damages.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, rejected an application to throw out singer/songwriter John McCormack's personal injuries claim.

The judge felt he would be doing an injustice to Mr McCormack (65) because of a psychiatric history.

Tom Clarke, counsel for Mr McCormack, said he had been injured when an unidentified driver had twice rammed his car in a bid to overtake him on Greenfort Avenue, Clondalkin.

Damages

Frank Martin, counsel for the Motor Insurers' Bureau of Ireland, told the Circuit Civil Court that McCormack, of Mercer House, Dublin 2, had appeared on a TV talent show and performed at gigs in Dublin after having told doctors he had been "permanently crippled" in the car crash.

Mr Martin said his claim for damages arising out of a road traffic incident on May 2, 2012, was McCormack's "fourth visit to the well of compensation".

Robert McQuillan, consultant in emergency medicine, said that when he examined Mr McCormack at Blackrock Clinic he had put on "a performance" of jerky digitalised movements of a man in severe pain who had hobbled into his examination rooms leaning on a stick.

"He told me he was permanently crippled and that if he moved it would kill him and that his back was jammed. He moved slowly with a lot of grimacing and groaning."

Mr Clarke, told the court it may have been McCormack's psychiatric and depressive background that caused him to act as he did with doctors.

Mr McQuillan said he later viewed video footage taken 45 minutes after Mr McCormack had left his clinic by a private detective on behalf of the MIBI, which showed him walking upright without a stick and bending over to get into his car.

Mr McQuillan told the court that Mr McCormack had been "grossly inventive" of his symptomatology and condition.

Professor John McIlwaine said he had seen Mr McCormack on behalf of the Injuries Board and clinically it had not been possible to examine him.

"He wouldn't get out of the wheelchair [he had been supplied with at reception] and said he was in so much pain he could not do anything," Prof McIlwaine said.

He had later watched McCormack's RTE performance.

"He was holding the microphone in his right hand, able to walk around and hyper-extend his leg. I didn't get the impression he was in significant pain," Prof McIlwaine said.

Questioned about his TV appearance and videos of himself he had posted on YouTube, Mr McCormack said he had good days and bad days and often felt much better after having applied a morphine patch.

Misleading

Mr McCormack said his car had been written off after the ramming incident.

Since then he had written more than 400 songs and made an album and put old singing videos of himself on YouTube.

He said Elvis Presley and Engelbert Humperdinck were his heroes.

A psychiatric report on Mr McCormack submitted to the court, said his condition may have contributed to how he dealt with doctors in medical examinations.

Awarding him €18,000 damages, Judge Groarke said Mr McCormack had given false and misleading evidence to medical staff at almost every turn but felt under the circumstances and due to his "psychiatric condition" it would be unreasonable to dismiss his case.

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