Meath boy (6) awarded €20,000 after lap top explodes

Judge says evidence of device catching fire has ‘put the heart cross-ways in me’

A leading judge has described the explosion of a lap top being used by a six-year-old boy at his mother’s dining table as scary.

"You have put the heart cross-ways in me," Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke told barrister Caitriona Craddock when she outlined how Shane O'Sullivan's lap top exploded in flames.

“That’s scary. You’re telling me that none of us are safe leaving out lap tops plugged in overnight,” the judge said Tuesday.

Shane, now aged 10, sued Hewlett Packard Ireland Ltd, manufacturers of the lap top, through his mother Anne Marie O'Sullivan for up to €60,000 damages for physical and psychological injuries he suffered as a result of the explosion at their home in Castle Hill, Slane, Co Meath on October 4th, 2013.

Ms Craddock told the Circuit Civil Court that Shane was using the lap top on the dining table in their kitchen when it exploded and went on fire, causing him injury mainly of a psychological nature.

“His mother threw it out onto the patio where it continued to burn,” Ms Craddock told the court. She said Shane had suffered a darting pain going up his arm at the time and afterwards became anxious about all electrical appliances.

She said he had attended Dr Seamus Kiernan, Watergate Street, Navan, four days after the incident and had been referred for an ECG which subsequently showed no major abnormalities.

Shane had been reviewed on November 18th, 2013 when it was noted he had suffered post trauma stress as a result of the event.

He became very anxious and insisted on all electrical plugs being pulled out at night. Shane had become anxious about all electrical appliances and fretful about the safety of lights on Christmas trees.

Ms O’Sullivan, who appeared in court with her son, said in an affidavit that he had a further review in September 2015.

Apart from nervousness of electrical appliances, lights and electronics and some minor post trauma stress he had recovered from the experience and was now participating in sports and all usual childhood activities.

Ms Craddock told the court Hewlett Packard Ireland, which has a registered address at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, had made a €20,000 settlement offer to Shane and she was recommending that the court accept it.

Judge Groarke, who heard Shane had become more easily startled after the incident, said he felt it was a good offer in the circumstances and approved it with costs.