Judge says compensation rates for death of a child 'totally inadequate'

Judge Says Compensation Rates For Death Of A Child 'Totally Inadequate'
The maximum amount of damages a court can make in cases involving the death of a child was curtailed to €35,000 more than quarter of a century ago
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Ray Managh

A judge has approved a €35,000 settlement from an aircraft company to the mother of a seven-year-old schoolboy who died in a double fatality plane crash in Co Offaly on May 13th, 2018.

Judge John O’Connor said the compensation to Kamila Sliwka, of Summerfield Meadows, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, for pain and suffering arising out of the tragic death of her child was totally inadequate.


The maximum amount of damages a court can make in cases involving the death of a child was curtailed to €35,000 more than quarter of a century ago.

The adequacy of the maximum figure, fixed by Statute, has not been considered by Government since 1996 when the terms of the Civil Liability Act 1961 was last updated.

Dream flight

Barrister David Richardson told the Circuit Civil Court that aircraft fan Kacper Kacprzak died while being given an impromptu dream flight in a Cessna 208B light aircraft by the pilot Niall Bowditch, who also died when the plane crashed only minutes after dropping a group of parachutists.

Mr Richardson, who appeared with Deborah Crowley of Ferry Solicitors, Rialto, Dublin, for the boy’s mother, told the court that Kacper regularly accompanied his mum and skydiving instructor father, Krzysztof, to the Irish Parachute Club at Clonbullogue Airfield, Co Offaly. He had a passion for all things aeronautical and loved watching the flights and parachutists.


“Kacper was not involved in any parachuting activity but was invited to sit in the cockpit of the Cessna,” Mr Richardson told Judge O’Connor. “Sadly the Cessna did not successfully complete its intended flight loop and shortly after 16 skydivers exited the aircraft it went out of control and crashed four-and-a-half kilometres from the airfield.”

The court heard the Cessna impacted heavily nose down into boggy ground causing the deaths of Kacper and the pilot. An inquest had been told their deaths would have been instantaneous.

Terrible tragedy

Mr Richardson said legal proceedings had been issued against a number of defendants and the first defendant, Parachuting Caravan Leasing Limited, a UK registered company which owned the Cessna that had been modified and configured for parachute drop-offs and who supplied the pilot, had undertaken negotiations of settlement.

Ms Crowley said in an affidavit that the aircraft owner, following negotiations, had offered to pay within 21 days the prescribed €35,000 compensation as well as €13,000 for special costs associated with Kacper’s death.


Judge O’Connor, approving of the settlement, offered his deep sympathy to Kacper’s family for what he described as a dreadful and terrible tragedy.

“This sum of money is totally inadequate and does not come near meeting appropriate compensation for the family for the pain and suffering they have endured since their tragic loss,” Judge O’Connor said.

The court heard that proceedings had also been initiated on behalf of Kacper’s parents for shock and suffering.

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