2016 Personal Injury Judgement Overview

1. A 12 year old schoolgirl, who suffered a laceration to her face while playing laser tag with friends at a Leisureplex, has been awarded €35,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Barrister John Moher told the court that Sophia Curtis was celebrating her 11th birthday at Leisureplex Coolock, Malahide Road, Coolock, Dublin in June last year when the incident happened.

Mr.Moher told the Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke the birthday celebrations included ‘Quasar’, a game played with laser guys and during which Sophie wore a protective mask.

The court heard that a group of young boys were in the Quasar area at the time and one of them ran into Sophia, pushing her mask into her face.

Mr Moher, who appeared with solicitor Michael A. O’Connor for Ms Curtis, said it was believed that a sharp edge inside the mask penetrated Sophia’s right eyebrow area.

Plasters had been applied on site and Sophie had later been taken by her father, Brendan Curtis, to a VHI Swiftcare Clinic, where her laceration was sutured.

Judge Groarke was told that Sophia also suffered abrasions to her nose during the incident. Her wounds had left a small permanent scar which was noticeable at a conversational distance.

Through her father Brendan, Sophia, of Waterside Crescent, Swords Road, Malahide, Co Dublin sued Lock Leisure Limited, which trades as Leisureplex Coolock, for negligence.

Mr Moher told the court that following an assessment by the Injuries Board, the defendant had made a €35,000 settlement offer, which Judge Groarke approved.

2. A man has secured a €10,000 settlement with legal costs in his ninth personal injury claim at Limerick Circuit Court

A most “unfortunate, accident-prone man” has secured a €10,000 settlement with legal costs in his ninth personal injury claim before Limerick Circuit Court.

Father-of-two, Anthony Lynch (38), of Dromroe, Rhebogue, claimed general damages as a result of a road traffic incident near Thomond Bridge on March 26th last year.

He told Judge James O’Donohue that while he was stopped at a junction in his work van, a car “came out of nowhere” and hit his vehicle from behind, resulting in a “significant impact”.

His van was written off in the incident. When he phoned his boss, he was told to stay in the van. The other driver sped off from the scene, mounting the kerb and hitting the wall of Thomond Bridge as he left.

Mr Lynch was on disability benefit for an earlier back injury and was only allowed to work for a limited number of hours. He went to his GP the following day and had to endure six months of neck, shoulder and lower back pain.

There were also “psychological issues” and he was still receiving pain management injections.

During cross-examination by counsel for Liberty Insurance, Emmett O’Brien BL, the court heard details of Mr Lynch’s eight previous claims spanning 15 years.

Bed Collapsed

He suffered an injury to his back as a result of a bed collapsing under him in January of last year, but no legal proceedings arose out that incident.

References were made to an incident where Mr Lynch swallowed a chicken bone while eating a chicken nugget.

Previously, the court heard Mr Lynch secured damages after a “trip and fall accident” on August 13th, 2013, where he successfully sued Eircom and was awarded €12,000 plus legal costs.

In January 2013, he sued Silvercrest Foods and was awarded €7,500 after he claimed he ate horse meat on the day the related scandal broke in Ireland.

3. Boy now aged 9, fell off monkey bars

A boy who fractured his elbow after falling off monkey bars in a playground has settled his High Court action against a school for €40,000.

James Farrell was aged five when he fell off monkey bars after being brought with a group to a local playground when attending a summer camp at Lucan East Educate Together school in 2013, the court heard.

His counsel David Houghton said the child, now aged nine, landed on his left elbow, suffered a nasty fracture and was later transferred to hospital where he had to have surgery on the elbow. He has been left with a scar.

Through his father Keith Farrell, Moyglass Dene, Lucan, the boy sued the board of management of Lucan East Educate Together national school, Grisheen Avenue, Lucan, as a result of the accident while he was attending a summer camp on July 11th, 2013.

It was claimed the child was permitted play on the monkey bars in circumstances where they knew or ought to have know known they represented a danger to him.

It was further claimed there was failure to operate any, or any adequate, system of supervision and failure to have regard to the age and maturity of the boy in permitting him to play on the monkey bars.

The claims were denied.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said James had made a very good recovery.

The judge added he hoped the settlement money available to him when he comes of age will provide a deposit on a house at a time after the accident is long forgotten.

4. Woman awarded €700,000 damages over hip implant

High Court award is first made by a judge in a case over DePuy Products

The case ran for 10 days in the High Court and is the first to go to judgment as others have settled before the court. As a result, the award is the first made by a judge in a case over DePuy hip implants about 12 hours ago

A mother of three who sued hip replacement implant manufacturer DePuy International has been awarded more than €700,000 damages by the High Court

While Gillian O’Sullivan’s injuries were “clearly not catastrophic”, they were “undoubtedly severe” and caused major disruption to her life, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found.

The injury resulted in serious continuing pain and ongoing permanent medical attention, he said.

Ms O’Sullivan’s injuries were far more severe than any other person whose case had opened before him in relation to DePuy hip replacement implants, he added.

The case ran for 10 days in the High Court and is the first to go to judgment as others have settled before the court. As a result, the award is the first made by a judge in a case over DePuy hip implants.

In her action, Ms O’Sullivan (52), of Tramore, Waterford, sued DePuy International Ltd claiming damages for negligence, breach of duty and liability for a defective product.

The claims were denied but, last October, DePuy said it did not require Ms O’Sullivan to establish the DePuy product supplied to her was defective and the case went ahead as an assessment of damages only without any admission of liability.

Revision Surgery

Ms O’Sullivan had a left hip replacement in October 2005 and a right hip replacement in May 2006. Later, she had to have further revision surgery.

Mr Justice Cross said, before her first left hip replacement operation, Ms O’Sullivan was told by a consultant it was a “once in a lifetime job” and afterwards she would have hips “like Brian O’Driscoll”.

Ms O’Sullivan said she gradually got worse and in 2007 started to experience a grinding sensation continuously in both legs. When she complained in late 2007 about her hips, she was told the “god of orthopaedics” had done the surgery.

Ms O’Sullivan had two further operations which were revisions of the earlier hip replacement operations. When she woke up from the left hip revision operation, she complained she had a severe pain in her knee but there were better results with the right hip revision operation.

The judge said Ms O’Sullivan now has significant problems and disabilities, is in significant pain, has significant limitations of movement and requires crutches.

He found 90 per cent of her past, present and future problems are referable to her hips and she will require three extra unnecessary hip replacements throughout her life.

Awarding total damages of €704,000, Mr Justice Cross allowed for general damages as well as past and future care.

5. Two brothers have lost €38,000 damages claims they each made for personal injuries they allegedly suffered in a car crash, and are now facing hefty legal bills

In the Circuit Criminal Court Patrick Maughan (29), unemployed, of Mourne View Park, Newry, Co Down, and Terry Maughan, unemployed, from Balbriggan, Co Dublin, sued Michael Kavanagh and also their brother and driver of the car in which they were passengers, John Maughan.

Patrick and Terry Maughan alleged they were stopped at traffic lights close to Dublin Airport, on November 4th, 2010, when Mr Kavanagh rear ended the van they were using to transport scrap for sale.

They claimed they suffered whiplash injuries.

Reversed at speed

Mr Kavanagh, of the Quarry, Carrickhill Road, Portmarnock, Co Dublin denied their claims and alleged the van suddenly reversed at speed and collided with his car.

The second defendant, John Maughan, had delivered a full defence denying negligence. He was not present in court because, he now “lives in England and he travels a lot, that’s our culture, we are travellers, we travel a lot,” Patrick Maughan told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke.

Judge Groarke said he preferred Mr Kavanagh’s account of what had happened. He said he was also satisfied that Patrick Maughan had failed to disclose a previous accident.

“If I accept the account given by Mr Kavanagh, which I do, it must follow that the two plaintiffs conspired to mislead the court for the purpose of seeking and obtaining compensation. That would be rather venal,” Judge Groarke said.

He dismissed both claims under section 26 of Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004, which deals with fraudulent actions, and made an order for costs against both Patrick and Terry Maughan.

6. Woman who fell down stairs of Dublin bus not given damages by court

’Utterly unreasonable’ to require drivers to check passengers in seats before driving off

Margaret McGarr’s appeal raised an important question about the extent of Dublin Bus’s duty of care to passengers on a double decker bus, the three-judge court noted.

A woman who suffered a “nasty” injury after falling backwards down the stairs of a Dublin Bus which moved off before she was seated on the top deck is not entitled to damages, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Margaret McGarr’s appeal raised an important question about the extent of Dublin Bus’ duty of care to passengers on a double decker bus, the three-judge court noted.

It was “utterly unreasonable and unrealistic” to impose a duty of care requiring Dublin Bus drivers to check passengers are securely in their seats before driving off, Mr Justice Michael Peart said.

To require the driver not to drive away until he was satisfied Ms McGarr had reached the top of the stairs would impose an “impossible” standard of care that “completely ignores the realities of modern-day bus travel”.

Dublin Bus was also entitled to assume “common knowledge” that buses, because of their sheer size and the volumes of traffic they typically travel in the city, “tend to sway and lurch a bit”, even when driven with great care, he said.

People know this, and know they need to hold on to the rails provided when standing on either of the decks or moving around, he said.

Drivers are required to take “reasonable care” and the evidence in this case, including from CCTV footage, was the driver did not move forward in any abrupt, sudden or violent manner, he said.

While railings were provided on each side of the stairs, Ms McGarr failed to keep hold of either railing as she mounted the final three steps of the stairs, he said. That alone was what caused her to lose balance when the bus moved off and there was “no breach” of the duty of care owed to her by Dublin Bus.

While having “every sympathy” for Ms McGarr over her injury, and the obvious distress she suffered at the time, he agreed with the High Court she was unfortunately the “author of her own misfortune” by mounting the stairs in the manner found.

He was giving the court’s unanimous judgment dismissing Ms McGarr’s appeal over the High Court’s rejection of her claim.

Ms McGarr was home from England and staying with relatives in Glasnevin when the accident happened on October 3rd, 2008. She boarded the No 19 bus about 8.30pm on her way to meet a friend in the Temple Bar area.

In her evidence, she said, as she approached the top of the stairs on the bus, there was a “very sudden jerk” of the vehicle which caused her to fall backwards and all the way down to the bottom of the stairs.

Another passenger gave evidence that, just before Ms McGarr landed at the bottom of the stairs, the bus jerked or jolted “quite violently” as it moved away from the stop.

Having viewed CCTV footage and heard all the evidence, including from engineers, the High Court found the bus had not moved away violently, Ms McGarr was not holding a handrail at the precise moment of her fall and she had not proven negligence against Dublin Bus.

Mr Justice Peart said he and the other members of the court had viewed the CCTV footage carefully and agreed with the High Court findings. The footage showed, at the time Ms McGarr fell, a male passenger continued to drink undisturbed from a can, he noted.

7. Judge Jacqueline Linnane, as well as dismissing Cora Byrne’s claim for damages, awarded costs of the unsuccessful case against her mother Samantha Byrne, who had taken the proceedings on her daughter’s behalf.

Cora’s mum, of Allingham Street, Pimlico, Dublin 8, told the Circuit Civil Court that she and three members of her family had visited Ann’s Bakery, Mary Street, Dublin, while out shopping on in July 2014.

She said she had bought two cardboard cartons of soup at the delicatessen counter and had placed one of them in front of her daughter, Cora, who was 12 at the time.
The soup had spilled over Cora’s lap who had jumped up screaming and who was forced to pull down her jeans to avoid further burning.

She had been treated by staff at the restaurant which is owned by Ray McNamara who trades as Ann’s Bakery.

Cora told barrister Frank Martin, who appeared with Tormeys Solicitors, for Mr McNamara, that when the soup carton was placed in front of her she had taken off the lid.

She had begun dipping bread in the soup before it toppled over and spilled onto her lap scalding the tops of her legs.

A member of staff had brought put a spray on her thighs to ease the pain and she had been taken to hospital by ambulance immediately afterwards.

Her burns, which had blistered, had been dressed at the hospital where she returned the following day for further treatment.

Mr Martin told the court the case had been narrowed down to the question of the temperature of the soup that had spilled on Cora’s legs.

There was no dispute as to how the incident had occurred as staff had not been involved in what had happened at the table.

Judge Linnane said delicatessen assistant Alice Dunne had been working at the restaurant for the past 20 years and several times a day would check the temperature of the soup.

On this occasion it had been recorded at 74 degrees which, the court had been told, was a comfortable temperature for serving to customers.

The judge, dismissing the case, said the evidence showed that the plaintiff had taken the lid off the soup carton and had knocked it over while dipping her bread in it.

8. Woman accused of stealing Aldi meat loses €75,000 damages claim

Ruta Bendikiene (55) claims Navan store would not provide CCTV footage or till receipt

Ruta Bendikiene (55), of Brews Hill, Navan, Co Meath, has lost a Circuit Civil Court action for damages against Aldi.

A 55-year-old woman, who claimed she was defamed and falsely imprisoned for five hours after being accused of stealing meat in an Aldi store, has lost a €75,000 damages claim in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge James O’Donohoe said Lithuanian woman Ruta Bendikiene had not been able to establish in her evidence that the alleged defamatory words she had pleaded in her Civil Bill had been spoken to her by security guard Michael Dunne on July 2014 outside Aldi, Navan, Co Meath.

Judge O’Donohoe said Mr Dunne’s evidence was very credible. The security guard said he had witnessed Ms Bendikiene placing two items of meat in her handbag and had not paid for them although she had paid for other items.

Mr Dunne said he had stopped her outside the store and asked her to go to a staff room where she had waited about 40 minutes for gardaí­ to arrive.

The judge said the evidence of Garda Gareth McArdle, who told the court that he decided to arrest Ms Bendikiene, of Brews Hill, Navan, after she had refused to cooperate, was crucial in the case.

Garda McArdle said Ms Bendikiene had an interpreter with her at Navan Garda station when she decided to sign an adult caution, an alternative to prosecution. He said signing the document was an acknowledgement of guilt.

Ms Bendikiene claimed she had paid for the goods and was accused by Mr Dunne of stealing them. She alleged she had signed the caution to avoid prosecution and to be released from the garda station that day rather than having to apply for bail the following week.

She claimed she was detained by the store for five hours. She said staff had refused to show her CCTV footage of the alleged incident and had not retained a till receipt of her transaction. The court heard that neither was available to show on Wednesday.

Judge O’Donohoe said he was satisfied Ms Bendikiene had not paid for the goods as she would not have signed the caution otherwise.

The judge dismissed Ms Bendikiene’s claim and awarded legal costs against her.

9. A Judge has thrown our personal injury claims by two people after hearing the car crash in which they were in had the same impact as a bumper car at a fairground.

Judge James O’Donoghue dismissed the cases of Eileen Ward and Charlie Ward when they appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

The pair, who are related by marriage, were both claiming against the driver of the car, Mr Ward’s wife Kathleen, following a collision at Ratoath in Co Meath in February, 2012.

Mrs Kathleen Ward, from Ard Glass, Glencar Irish, Letterkenny, did not give evidence in today’s case.

Both claimants gave evidence that they suffered neck and back injuries as a result of the accident and were suing Liberty Insurance for personal injuries.

The amount of financial damages being sought by both people was not disclosed during the case.

Eileen Ward, aged 42, from Cavan at Letterkenny Circuit Court today (North West Newspix)

However, the court was told that there was minimal impact in the crash.

Two other people in the car had also started personal injury claims against the driver but one had already been struck out.

The incident happened when the Nissan Primera car being driven by Ms Kathleen Ward, slid into the back of a car stopped at a set of traffic lights at Fairyhouse, Ratoath.

There were five occupants in the car including Eileen Ward, Charlie Ward, Kathleen Ward, another Charlie Ward and a cousin Michael Mongan.

The Toyota Corrolla car parked at the red traffic light was being driven by computer science student Mr Liviu Ioan Pantille who was returning from lectures at Maynooth University.

Mr Pantille was unhurt in the incident and paid the €100 to repair the tow bar of his car out of his own pocket, the court heard.

The court was shown pictures of some small damage to the front of the Nissan Primera car caused by the tow bar of the other car.

Kathleen Ward, 42, said she was a front seat passenger and banged her face off the dashboard of the car upon impact but stressed that she was wearing a seatbelt.

She described the impact of both cars as “shocking.”

She said she suffered lower back pain and attended Cavan General Hospital the following day and took a course of painkillers.

Charlie Ward, aged 30, from St martin’s Estate, Cavan, said he was a back-seat passenger, who also banged his head off the headrest in front of him.

He claimed he suffered head and neck pain and attended Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital four days after the accident.

Neither claimants suffered long-term injury and a medical report on Mrs Eileen Ward said her pain would leave in weeks rather than months.

Barrister for driver Mrs Kathleen Ward, Seamus Breen, claimed minimal impact occurred during the crash.

In a medical report, Dr Martin Coyne compared the injuries suffered to that people might receive in a bumper car incident at a fairground.

Judge James O’Donoghue dismissed both claims saying he was satisfied there was minimal impact and that they were “opportunist claims.”

“I am happy on the evidence that there was a very small impact of a minimal type. These are opportunist claims that I am meeting on a regular basis throughout the country.

“I am satisfied that it was a bumper car like incident and it has all the hallmarks of an opportunist effort to exploit a minimal impact and make the most of it,” he said.

He dismissed both claims.

10. December 2016 Woman awarded €140,000 by Judge Michael Hanna

A woman who slipped on a pavement in Dublin has been awarded €140,000 for personal injuries arising as a result of the slip and fall.

Judge Michael Hanna indicated that the Plaintiff’s doctors gave evidence that she may require a knee replacement and will be a candidate for arthritis into the future.

The Court ruled that the Plaintiff was entitled to general damages to date in the sum of €40,000 with an award of €100,000 for general damages into the future.

The Defendant’s Counsel applied for a stay and a stay was granted provided €50,000 was paid to the Plaintiff on or before the 19th December 2016.