Skip to main content

Important decision in area of Contributory Negligence: Court of Appeal upholds High Court Award where Plaintiff was held to be Contributorily Negligent

By May 10, 2023June 26th, 2024No Comments

Court of Appeal upholds High Court Award where Plaintiff was held to be Contributorily Negligent

In a recent judgment delivered by Mr Justice Seamus Noonan in Carroll v Feelan [2023] IECA 91, the Court distinguished a case of Byrne v Ardenheath, which was relied upon by the Defendants in the appeal.

This case involved a Plaintiff who was assisting with a junior camogie team and suffered severe facial injuries from slipping on seats which she stood on in order to look over a wall to see who was in a car that had arrived at the GAA ground in Roscrea.

The expert evidence by the engineers agreed that the seats had been installed in an amateurish fashion and that they were inherently slippy. It also was found that no risk assessment had been carried out by the Club. It was agreed that it was reasonably foreseeable that people, particularly children, would be likely to step over the slippery seating and so the finish on the seating was not recommended.

The High Court held that the Defendant was liable for the injuries suffered by the Plaintiff  but accepted that the Plaintiff contributed to the accident, and apportioned liability on a 50/50 basis, and the Plaintiff was thus awarded €47,000.00.

The Defendant insurance company appealed the decision, and relied on the Byrne v Ardenheath decision and Lavin v Dublin Airport Authority, on the basis that simply because there was an accident on the premises this did not render the Club liable.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Noonan distinguished the cases of Byrne and Lavin  and said that in these cases, there was no identifiable danger which caused injuries to the plaintiffs, where in this case, there was clearly an identifiable danger by reason of the fact that the seats were slippy and had been installed in an amateurish fashion and no risk assessment had been carried out. He concluded that the slippery seating amounted to an unusual danger on the premises and its presence represented clear negligence on the part of the Defendant.

He also stated that it was foreseeable that a person may suffer injuries on the benches. He upheld the finding of contributory negligence that the Plaintiff could have avoided the accident by using the pedestrian entrance, or moving her foot in a different way, but the fact remained that it was the slippery nature of the seating which caused her to fall and suffer damage.

In this case, even though the Plaintiff contributed to her injuries, this did not absolve the Defendants completely from the consequences of their negligence.

For further information on any litigation/personal injuries matter, please do not hesitate to contact Donna Phelan or Conor Cleary on 01 2960666.