Depression linked to little finger injury made garda leave force 10 years early

Man sought €310,000 in lost earnings but received €75,000 damages in High Court

A former garda sued the State for more than €310,000 in lost earnings after leaving the force 10 years early because of depression linked to an injury to his little finger suffered while deporting a person.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey said in a High Court garda compensation case that the former garda had also claimed damages for personal injuries related to fracturing the finger on his right hand almost 20 years ago.

The judge, who said the case involved very personal details about the claimant’s family, decided to anonymise the application and referred to him only as Garda B.

He awarded the garda €42,699 for loss of earnings; €10,000 for physical pain and suffering arising from his fractured finger and €10,000 for psychological pain of his depression arising from the incident.


The judge also awarded the garda €8,180 for medical expenses associated with the physical and mental suffering and €5,100 for loss of earnings due to his absence on sick leave due to the fracture - a total of €75,981 in damages.

Mr Justice Twomey said Garda B had received two injections and no other treatment for the fracture and made a full physical recovery. The main issue in the case remained the extent to which his psychiatric injuries could be attributed to the incident when his finger was fractured.


He said a significant portion of the €310,893 claimed for financial loss included €112,350 for Courts Act interest, much of which was at the rate of 8 per cent for 19 years up to 2017, before the introduction of a lower interest rate of 2 per cent.

He said Frank Callanan SC, who appeared with barrister Grainne Fahey for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, had stated it was unusual for an expert actuarial report to incorporate Courts Act interest in this manner and the court would, in light of existing legal authority, exclude this from the overall loss of earnings.

The judge said the damages had to be proportionate to the general cap of €450,000 and reasonable in light of general after-tax incomes currently in the region of €35,000.

He said the principles also stated that appropriate scepticism and common sense be applied to claims and directed that caution be taken by the court when relying on expert reports.

Seán Ó hUallacháin SC, who appeared with barrister Roddy Maguire and solicitor Vincent T. Griffin for the injured garda, was awarded the costs of the application.