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Damages Injury Contributory negligence

Damages Injury Contributory negligence

By Denis Ryan
Tuesday, 29th August 2017

Damages - Injury - Contributory negligence - Appellant seeking to appeal against the reward of general damages - Whether trial judge made a finding of negligence against the appellant


Facts: The appellant, Cherry Hill Inns Ltd, appealed to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the High Court of the 14th January, 2016, whereby the trial judge awarded the respondent, Ms O’Flynn, €75,000 by way of general damages in respect of injuries received by her on the premises of the appellant on the 17th February. 2012. In so doing the High Court judge concluded that in setting the closing speed for an automatic door at other than the slowest possible speed the appellant had failed in its duty to protect customers such as Ms O’Flynn from foreseeable injury, which in her case occurred when the ring finger of her left hand became trapped in the hinged recess of that door. The appellant submitted that the trial judge made no real finding of negligence against the appellant that would have entitled him to award compensation to the respondent. The appellant submitted that there was no evidential basis for the liability finding and that no consideration was given to the evidence of the appellant’s witnesses. The appellant submitted that in circumstances where Ms O’Flynn had admitted putting her hand behind her to restrain a closing door that a finding of substantial contributory negligence was warranted. Insofar as the award of damages made by the trial judge in the sum of €75,000 was concerned, the appellant submitted that the award was simply not proportionate having regard to her injuries and was also not in keeping with the compensation advised in the Book of Quantum for partial amputations of a finger in the respondent's personal circumstances.

Held by Irvine J that there was no evidence entitling the High Court judge to find that the appellant had failed to use reasonable care when it set the timing mechanism on the door in question at 5.5 seconds. Irvine J held that there was no basis upon which the High Court judge was lawfully entitled to conclude that the appellant had any responsibility for the respondent’s injury. Irvine J held that she would allow the appeal. Appeal allowed.

O'Flynn, Saundra v Cherry Hill Inns Ltd trading as The Oliver Plunkett Bar

21/7/2017 No. 2016 50 [2017] IECA 211