A man who was viciously beaten with a crowbar and ended up with life-changing catastrophic injuries, including to his brain, has settled a High Court action for €2 million.
Mark Lahive, a father of four, was subjected to a terrifying and vicious assault in the four-minute attack as he loaded up a work van in a Cork business park eight years ago. Two young men were later jailed by Cork Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to assault causing serious harm at Exchange Business Park, Churchfield, Cork, in what was described by the presiding judge as “a truly egregious offence.”
In the High Court, Mr Lahive’s counsel Oonagh McCrann SC, instructed by Cantillons Solicitors, said that allegations of contributory negligence levelled by Mr Lahive’s employer and the business park operators against him over the attack were being formally withdrawn as part of the settlement.
She said the allegations had greatly upset Mr Lahive and his family, from Ballyvolane, Co Cork. She said they centred on a crowbar he had picked up when he saw two men trying to break into his van in the business park. The crowbar later dropped out of his hand when he fell, and was used by the assailants in the attack.
Ms McCrann said the €2 million settlement represented 50 per cent of the full value of the claim.
Mr Justice Paul Coffey, who approved the settlement, said he was particularly gratified that “the unfounded allegations of negligence and contributory negligence have been formally withdrawn”.
The judge added that it was regrettable they were ever made and “withdrawn so late”. He said Mr Lahive and his family had suffered enormously.
In court, Mr Lahive, who had worked as a sales representative, said the attack on April 28th, 2015, had destroyed his life.
“I was fit as a fiddle and enjoying everything, but from that day of the attack, everything was turned on its head. It has crucified me,” he said.
He said the claims of contributory negligence levelled against him in the proceedings had upset him. “They were trying to blame me. For the last eight years and eight months it has destroyed me,” he told the judge.
Mr Lahive (47) of Ballyvolane, Co Cork, had sued his then-employer Robert Roberts Ltd, with registered offices at MillBank Business Park, Lucan, Dublin; the operator and managers of the business park where the assault took place, Exchange Business Park Management Company Ltd with registered offices at Blackpool, Cork; and the two assailants, who were both in their 20s at the time.
Jamie O’Brien, of Meadow Hills, the Meadows, Hollyhill, Cork, was jailed for six years with the last year suspended; and Eddie Murphy, of Kilmore Rd, Knocknaheeny, was jailed for six years at Cork Circuit Criminal Court for the assault. Judgement had previously been granted in default of appearance against both and their cases were adjourned generally.
Mr Lahive claimed against his employer that there was an alleged failure to provide a safe place of work and against the business park operators that there was an alleged failure to take steps so as to protect Mr Lahive from the potential of assault.
The claims were denied, and it was contended by Robert Roberts Ltd that there was alleged contributory negligence on the part of Mr Lahive, because he had allegedly confronted the two young men in circumstances where he knew or ought reasonably have known that it was unsafe and dangerous to do so.
Exchange Business Park Management also claimed there was alleged contributory negligence in that Mr Lahive had allegedly decided to use an iron bar as an implement of alleged threat. All these claims were formally withdrawn.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Coffey said there was a litigation risk in the case but the settlement was prudent, fair and reasonable.
A separate action by Mr Lahive’s wife Rebecca for nervous shock was also settled and struck out.