Award of €50,000 to boy injured by radiator deemed ‘grossly excessive’

Judge says boy’s injury is ‘possibly the smallest scar I have seen’ in a High Court action

A €50,000 award to a boy who cut his back when he fell onto an unprotected and damaged radiator valve was ‘grossly excessive’, the Court of Appeal has ruled. File photograph: Getty Images

A €50,000 award to a boy who cut his back when he fell onto an unprotected and damaged radiator valve was ‘grossly excessive’, the Court of Appeal has ruled. File photograph: Getty Images

 

A €50,000 award to a boy who cut his back when he fell onto an unprotected and damaged radiator valve was “grossly excessive” and should be halved, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Judge Mary Irvine said on Thursday that the boy’s injury, unaccompanied as it was by any other physical or psychological injury, “is possibly if not probably the smallest scar I have ever seen form the subject of High Court proceedings in more than 35 years of legal practice”.

Judge Kevin Cross of the High Court had made the award to Paul Gore, of Dingle Road, Cabra, Dublin, in April 2016 over the injury which he sustained on December 11th, 2011, in a bedroom in his family home.

Through his mother, Sharon Gore, the boy had sued their landlord John Walsh and Mr Walsh’s son Darren, who had carried out renovation works to the bedroom.

Paul, who was four at the time of the incident, fell from his sister’s bed onto the radiator’s spindle, which Mr Justice Cross found had been fractured and was not protected by a standard plastic cap.

Mr Justice Cross found the Walshes were liable as the damage to the radiator was probably a result of a sharp blow from a spanner or hammer while the work was being carried out.

The judge said it was “fanciful” to say the radiator had been damaged by the movement of a bed in the room, as was suggested by John Walsh’s brother Ken, who had installed the radiator.

He found the defendants liable and awarded €50,000 for pain and suffering to date and into the future.

Appeal

The defendants appealed that decision.

On Thursday, Ms Justice Irvine sent the case back to the High Court, saying the issue of liability should be reconsidered.

In relation to the amount of damages, Ms Justice Irvine said the boy’s injury, in the context of cosmetic injuries commonly before the courts, “is at the very lowest end of the cosmetic injury spectrum”.

She said she was satisfied the award cannot be considered just, fair or proportionate to the injury sustained.

“Paul was not left with a significant scar, as was determined by the trial judge. Neither can his scar be described, as it was by counsel, as horrific,” she said.

She replaced the €50,000 award with one of €25,000.