Woman suing Dublin Bus got date of alleged fall wrong

Judge rules case seeking €60,000 damages for injuries may go ahead on later date

A woman, who got the date of an alleged fall wrong when she attempted to sue Dublin Bus for €60,000 damages for personal injuries, may go ahead with her case, a judge ruled on Thursday.

Judge John O’Connor rejected a Circuit Court application by the bus company that Sinéad Byrne’s case should collapse because she claimed the incident had occurred on November 24th, 2017, instead of the 25th.

Gerard O'Herlihy, the leading defence solicitor in personal injury cases against Dublin Bus, had told the court Ms Byrne, of Marrsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin 13, had an Injuries Board authorisation to sue regarding the 24th but not the 25th when an incident had allegedly occurred.

Mr O’Herlihy, of M Roche Solicitors, said existing legislation which insisted on proper authorisation to bring proceedings, barred Ms Byrne from taking a case and deprived the court of jurisdiction to hear it by amendment.

Ms Byrne, who was a carer for her mother, who has since died, claimed she did not even have time to wait at the scene for an ambulance because she was on her way to see her mother.

She alleged another passenger had fallen on top of her, injuring her shoulder and causing her ongoing pain when helping or lifting her mother.

Mr O’Herlihy said that while an injured party would have a right to ask a court to amend pleadings in a case, no litigant could insist on a court amending legislation which stipulated that no proceedings may be brought without Injuries Board authorisation.

Barrister Michael Murray, counsel for Ms Byrne, quoted existing legal authorities which referred to the authorisation rule as a liberal one allowing a judge to amend proceedings.

Mr O’Connor, in a reserved judgment, said Mr O’Herlihy had accepted that the proposed amendment did not cause Dublin Bus any prejudice in its defence of the claim although he reiterated that a lack of Injuries Board authorisation meant the action was statute barred.

Allowing the case to proceed at a later date, the judge said Ms Byrne’s legal team had made out a prima facie case as to why he should exercise the court’s judicial discretion to amend the proceedings especially where it was not prejudicial to a defence.

“Historically, pleadings have been surrounded by rigid formalism but in recent times they have been modified so that litigants are no longer limited by pleadings,” the judge said.