Case over man’s 500ft fall down mountain settled at High Court

Barry Griffin took action against Irish Aviation Authority over injuries suffered on team building exercise

A man who suffered catastrophic injuries when he fell more than 500ft as he descended Carrauntoohil has settled his High Court action. Photograph: iStock

A man who suffered catastrophic injuries when he fell more than 500ft as he descended Carrauntoohil has settled his High Court action. Photograph: iStock

 

A man who suffered catastrophic injuries when he fell more than 500ft as he descended Carrauntoohil has settled his High Court action.

The case taken by Barry Griffin (43), an engineering manager with Dublin Air Traffic Control, against the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) was settled on Friday afternoon after talks.

Shane English BL, for Mr Griffin, told Mr Justice Tony O’ Connor his client’s action against a Co Kerry operator who organises team building exercises, Pat Falvey of Irish and Worldwide Adventures Ltd, of Beaufort, Killarney, was being withdrawn.

Jennifer O’Connell BL, for the operator, confirmed the withdrawal of the claims against her client.

The terms of the settlement against the IAA are confidential.

The court had heard Mr Griffin, of Carlton Court, Swords, Co Dublin, was on a work team building exercise in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains in Co Kerry when the accident happened five years ago.

It was claimed that he impacted repeatedly with rocks as he fell and suffered life threatening injuries, was rendered tetraplegic and now has to use a wheelchair. The claims were denied and full defences were filed.

Critical importance

Mr Griffin’s counsel, Edward Walsh SC, instructed by Stephen MacKenzie solicitors, told the court on Thursday that the case was of critical importance to his client and that as many as 65 witnesses were scheduled to give evidence.

It was claimed that Mr Griffin had in May 2013 participated in a trip to Mount Brandon, which was organised by his employer and he believed to be compulsory. In 2014 and in 2015 he participated in trips to Carrauntoohil, which he also believed to be compulsory.

He claimed that on April 25th, 2016 he was informed by the IAA that a fourth team building trip had been organised, which he again understood to be compulsory. He alleged that the exact details of the exercise were not disclosed.

Mr Griffin claimed he was part of a large group from the IAA that participated in the team building exercise on May 19th, 2016. He said they were required to climb to the summit of Carrauntoohil and then ascend Cnoc na Toinne.

Narrow route

He claimed, after being directed and required to undertake a demanding mountaineering trek lasting several hours over challenging terrain, the group was instructed to descend Cnoc na Toinne via a narrow, unkempt and exposed route.

He claimed he fell about 574ft down the face of the mountain onto his back and developed very significant gravitational momentum and was unable to control or stop his fall.

Mr Griffin claimed the IAA organised the exercise when it ought to have known it was dangerous and that it failed to have regard for the level of expertise required to successfully or safely trek the mountains.

He had further claimed he was allegedly allowed to form an impression or to believe he was under an obligation to attend or participate in the exercise.