Man suffered catastrophic injuries in forklift accident, court hears

Company denied negligence over incident that left 32-year-old man brain damaged

A 32-year-old man who came to Ireland to start a new life suffered catastrophic and life changing injuries when he was crushed by a forklift against a refuse skip at work, the High Court has heard.

Eugeniu Lazari’s wife Cristina told the court they had moved from Moldova with hopes for the future. She said the incident three years ago left her lost without family or friends in Ireland and with two young children.

Mr Lazari, the court heard, has been brain damaged and requires full-time residential care.

Mr Lazari, from Naas, Co Kildare, had through his wife sued his employer Doyle Shipping Group Unlimited Company, of Ocean Pier, Alexandar Road, Dublin, over the accident on September 20th, 2019. Doyle Shipping denied negligence. A mechanical operative, Mr Lazari was cleaning up weeds when it is believed he was crushed by the forklift.

Ms Lazari told Mr Justice Paul Coffey she fears she may now lose her council home after she settled two High Court actions for a total of €3 million over the accident at a premises in Dublin Port. She asked that some of the settlement be used to secure a home for her and her children where her husband can also be cared for at home.

Mr Justice Coffey said it was a heartbreaking case where the Lazaris had come to this country in 2016 with optimism and hope for the future and three years later this tragic accident “completely altered their lives in a most profound way”.

The judge said that while he had a limited function and he had to have regard only for the best interests of Mr Lazari, he had listened very carefully to Ms Lazari and was mindful of her wishes.

He said everything should be done for her and he was in no doubt that Mr Lazari would want that. Mr Justice Coffey said the case can come back before him, if needs be in the future.

The family counsel, Edward Walsh SC, told the court Mr Lazari ‘s accident took place just nine days after the birth of his second child.

Counsel said that on the day of the accident Mr Lazari was clearing weeds from a maintenance yard but it was noticed that he had not turned up for his morning tea break. When colleagues found him he was unconscious and crushed up against a refuse skip by a forklift.

Counsel said there was an investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and gardaí. A HSA investigation found there was no mechanical fault in the forklift truck.

No prosecution was brought in the case by gardaí, who concluded that Mr Lazari got down off the forklift to check the skip and the forklift crept up on him and crushed him. At issue in the case was whether the handbrake in the forklift was engaged or not.

The company denied negligence and maintained that Mr Lazari was not authorised to operate a forklift and that there was alleged contributory negligence in that Mr Lazari had allegedly positioned himself between the skip and the forklift in circumstances where he knew or ought to have known it was unsafe to do so.