Forty-two year old Fernando Romeiro fell to his death down an uncovered well on Church land in 2004 – but it is only now that the Supreme court of Justice has ruled that his widow and son should be compensated, to the tune of €249,000. Whether or not they will however is uncertain as the ruling has seen judges affirm there is “no legal foundation” for one of the defendants to pay up.
The situation is complicated as the land was allegedly in the use of a mining company.
The parish of Pinhel ceded the land in 1965, and the mining company then abandoned it in the 80s, saying it was back in the possession of the Fábrica da Igreja Paroquial de Santa Eufêmia.
When Romeiro’s body was found floating in the well, both entities blamed each other, and the bereaved family decided to sue for compensation.
The well had been covered by moss and vegetation and completely camouflaged for anyone who did not know it was there.
An initial court case saw the family’s bid for damages denied.
Romeiro had been out hunting when he fell – and his body lay in the well for well over 24 hours before searchers discovered it.
An appeal court ruled that both the parish and the mining company were to blame, while the parish was cited for “creating a situation of danger” for not having closed off the well.
But as there is no legal foundation for the mining company to pay its share of the fine, it remains to be seen how much Romeiro’s family will actually receive.