Man attacked by parents’ bull settles High Court action against them

Court hears Clement Gavin continues to have flashbacks of ‘terrifying and frightening’ incident

A man who lost a part of his earlobe when a bull struck him has settled a High Court action against its owners, his parents, for an unannounced sum.

Clement Gavin (47), of Bishops Court Upper, Kill, Co Kildare, endured a “terrifying and frightening” ordeal when the bull attacked and threw him into the air on a morning in February six years ago, his counsel told the court.

The plaintiff’s parents, Michael Gavin snr and Maria Gavin, also of Bishops Court Upper, owned the animal and the field it occupied.

Liability was not at issue in the case, which came before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Friday for assessment of damages only. The court heard a claim for €542,000 of lost earnings, which was strongly opposed by the defendants, was no longer being pursued.


Following a break in the hearing to allow talks between the parties’ lawyers, the judge was informed their differences had been resolved and the case could be struck out, with a vacation of a previous costs order made against the plaintiff.

No further details of the settlement were announced.

Earlier, the court heard the attack, on February 15th, 2016, left Clement Gavin with a series of physical injuries, including to his neck, head and back.

The primary physical injury was a detachment of his left earlobe, where the bull had struck him, according to his counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC, with Frank Crean BL. Although he had reconstructive surgery, Mr Gavin is conscious of the deformity and struggles to sleep on his left side, counsel said.

Dr O’Mahony said the bull had “gored” Mr Gavin a number of times before he could get free and reach the safety of his vehicle.

Mr Gavin, a father-of-four, has also suffered from headaches, flashbacks and other psychological impacts including post-traumatic stress disorder due to the event, said counsel.

Among his claims was an allegation that the defendants had failed to have any adequate system for the control and/or restraint of the bull.

The company director could not work for much of 2019 due to other ailments, and it was his case that the bull attack contributed to his fragile state of mind at that time, said Dr O’Mahony.

Fergus O’Hagan SC, with Philip Fennell BL and O’Riada Solicitors, said a claim for €542,000 was made late in the proceedings, and his clients “strongly” questioned the validity of any claim for loss of earnings.

Mr O’Hagan said the defendants disputed that the 2016 attack contributed to the difficulties that had prevented their son from working in 2019.

Dr O’Mahony told the judge this claim for loss of earnings was being withdrawn, but the “fragility” caused by the bull attack should be taken into account when assessing damages.

A short while later, following talks between the parties, Ms Justice Reynolds was told the case had been settled. She struck out the action on consent.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter