A mart has been ordered to pay €75,000 damages to a farmer who broke several ribs when he was attacked and gored by a bull in a holding pen.
The High Court found the operator of the mart in Edenderry, Co Offaly, was negligent in driving young bulls back into the pen after some had become blocked in a passageway on August 5th, 2017.
Cattle and dairy farmer Fergus Malone claimed the mart’s manager had asked him to steer the bulls out of the holding pen and into the chute, but they were redirected back to the pen following the logjam.
The married 53-year-old from Edenderry said this “spooked” one of the animals, which belonged to his brother, and it charged at him.
The farmer described being “gored” by the bull, which he claimed knelt on him and “destroyed” him, according to the judge.
Edenderry Livestock Mart Limited denied it was liable in any way and claimed Mr Malone was responsible for the incident.
Mr Justice Cian Ferriter did not accept the mart operator’s claims that Mr Malone had provoked the bull by hitting it on the head with a stick. On the balance of probabilities, he said, the farmer used his stick against the bull only after it became agitated and had charged at him.
The experienced farmer was a credible witness, said the judge, who accepted he knew how to handle himself around young bulls and would not have hit him other than in self-defence.
The judge said the case was a lesson in the extent to which recollections of the same event can vary “quite radically”. He concluded Mr Malone’s account was the most accurate and reliable.
There was nothing the plaintiff could have done to avoid the charging bull once it had been driven back into the pen, the judge said.
Mr Malone was entitled to damages for his injuries, which included five broken ribs and severe soft tissue damage which prevent him from milking his cows properly and lifting heavy objects, said the judge.
The €75,000 award was designed to compensate for suffering to date, as well as ongoing PTSD symptoms and the limitations of his left shoulder that will likely “significantly” affect his farming ability for the foreseeable future, the judge said.
Mr Justice Ferriter noted the case predates the introduction in April 2021 of new personal injuries guidelines, which have reduced the average level of general damages awarded for personal injuries.
The award was arrived at through reference to the legal principles applicable prior to the new guidelines.