Woman who lost eye in accident sues partner's parents for damages


A young woman who lost an eye after being struck in the face by pieces of glass when a pane in a door shattered has sued her partner’s parents over the incident, which happened on their farm.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill was told yesterday that if liability was proven, it was agreed damages of €200,000 would be paid to Elaine Newman (27), formerly of Mullingar, Co Westmeath, but now living with her partner Emmett Cogan in Australia. The couple have a four-year-old son.

Ms Newman has brought the action, which raises issues under the Occupier’s Liability Act, against Marie and Patrick Cogan over the accident on their farm at Delganstown, Delvin, Co Westmeath.

The court heard Emmett Cogan, who was on crutches at the time of the incident, had provided a statement in which he said that as he came into the farmhouse behind Ms Newman, he tripped and fell in the porch and his left hand crashed into one of the glass panels in the back door and broke it.

In their defence, his parents denied liability. Without prejudice to their denials, they also pleaded the injuries arose from negligence and breach of duty of their son and further pleaded contributory negligence on the part of Ms Newman.

A report provided for Ms Newman’s side by an engineer concluded the glazed door was typical of its type and age and similar to farmhouse doors around the country. It said there was no obligation on householders to retrofit safety glazing in such doors and there were many unusual features in the description of the accident.

The case concluded yesterday and judgment was reserved.

In evidence, Ms Newman told Edward Walsh SC that she was visiting Mr Cogan at his parents’ farm on June 22nd, 2007, when the accident occurred at about 12.30pm.

She said they had been outside and were going back inside the house. She went through the porch to the rear door which had two large panes of glass, opened that door and was moving to shut it.

All she remembered was the glass shattered and she was hit in the face, she said.

She underwent surgery but was told her eye could not be saved, and she was later fitted with an artificial eye.

It was all “a horror story”, she told Mr Walsh.