Thursday, November 10, 2022

High court reporters

A woman who was injured when the Luas tram she was on was in a collision with a taxi has had an €80,000 damages award upheld by the Court of Appeal (CoA).

The award by the High Court in 2020 to Margaret Keating (65) included €10,000 for aggravated damages after the trial judge rejected defence claims that she had given misleading evidence by not informing the defence of a subsequent accident she was involved in on the Luas.

Ms Keating, of Bluebell Road, Bluebell, Dublin, had sued the taxi driver whose vehicle was involved in the collision with the tram at Steevens Hill/Heuston Station on June 15th, 2016.

She sued Martin Mulligan, from Leixlip, Co Kildare, alleging he drove through a red light at the junction and failed to keep a proper lookout.

Mr Mulligan denied she had suffered as a result of the accident.

She claimed she suffered injuries to her neck and shoulder as a result of striking her shoulder on one of the upright bars on the tram.

Mr Mulligan appealed the €80,000 award made to her in 2020 by since-retired High Court judge Kevin Cross.

Second Luas accident

Mr Mulligan’s primary ground of appeal was that Mr Justice Cross failed to correctly apply the provisions of Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004, giving the court the power to dismiss an action on the basis of false or misleading evidence.

It had been argued by the defence in the High Court that the case should be dismissed because Ms Keating had not disclosed to the defence that she had another, less serious, accident on a Luas more than a year later in August 2017.

Ms Keating, under cross-examination, told the court she did disclose the 2017 accident, that she was waiting for the defendant “to ask me” and was telling the truth.

The court heard she was involved in a previous slip and fall accident in the UK in 1996, suffering injuries to her lower back which required surgery. That claim was settled in 2002 for £400,000 (€459,000).

Mr Justice Cross found Ms Keating was an entirely truthful witness. He did not accept that the defence had established any intention on her part, or of her legal advisers, to mislead the court.

He also said the subsequent 2017 accident was irrelevant to the injuries she was claiming for in the 2016 accident.

The three-judge CoA upheld the findings and award of Mr Justice Cross.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, on behalf of the CoA, agreed with the High Court that the 2017 injuries were “entirely irrelevant” to the 2016 accident. It was “not material” and the decision to reject the application to dismiss for misleading evidence was “perfectly correct”, he said.

Having regard to the manner in which the claim of misleading evidence was advanced in the High Court, Mr Justice Cross was “entirely justified” in making the additional €10,000 aggravated damages award, he said.

Ms Keating’s medical evidence was that she had suffered a genuine injury to her shoulder. When she was examined two years after the accident was found to have pain symptoms which were largely unchanged and likely to persist in the future, the judge said.

He did not think the award for general damages, of €70,000, was “so disproportionate as to amount to an error of law”. In those circumstances, the CoA would not interfere with the award.

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