Scaffolder’s damages claim fails after ruling he was culpable for injury
Plaintiff blamed taxi driver for ‘clipping’ him, but version of events exposed as ‘ fabrication’
The question for the court was whether Mr Reilly, who engaged in behaviour putting his own safety and that of others at risk, was to blame or whether he could apportion some or all of the blame to the taxi driver, said the judge. File photograph: Getty Images
A man who claimed he was injured when a taxi rolled over his ankle after he ended up on the ground in the middle of a street fight was “wholly responsible” for his injury, the High Court ruled.
Mr Justice Michael Twomey said Eddie Reilly, a scaffolder, might also have caused gardaí to wrongly prosecute the taxi driver after he said he had been “clipped” by the taxi as he stood outside a pub. He made no mention of the fight.
The judge said the taxi driver could have been in difficulty were it not for the “excellent and painstaking detective work” of Garda Eileen Murphy in searching for and analysing CCTV footage.
It was clear from the footage Mr Reilly’s version of what happened was a “complete fabrication”, he said.
Dismissing the action for damages against taxi driver Michael Mangan, the judge said Mr Reilly, of Dalton Park, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was drunk and engaging in reckless and unlawful behaviour about 1am on March 15th, 2015.
Mr Reilly was drunk, having had eight pints in a short period of time, and was in a fight with a group of men in the middle of the main street of Mullingar, the judge said.
“During the melee, he fell or was knocked to the ground in the middle of a busy street right beside the back wheel of a taxi which was momentarily stopped at a red light,” he said. “Mr Reilly ended up lying so close to the back wheel of the taxi that, when the light turned green and the taxi driver pulled away from the melee, the wheel rolled over Mr Reilly’s ankle”.
Mr Reilly suffered a fracture and required surgery.
An unco-operative witness
The question for the court was whether Mr Reilly, who engaged in behaviour putting his own safety and that of others at risk, was to blame or whether he could apportion some or all of the blame to the taxi driver, the judge said.
He concluded “Mr Reilly is wholly responsible for the fracture to his ankle and no legal liability attaches to Mr Mangan for this injury”.
The judge also said that in his evidence to the court, Mr Reilly was “an unco-operative witness”. Details of his alleged social welfare fraud and alleged use of a gun in a domestic incident were put to him in cross-examination which, rather than answering, he objected to its relevance.
He also, when questioned about he fight in the street, claimed he only acted in self-defence even though the CCTV footage showed he not only had several opportunities to walk away but was the aggressor who returned to engage in the fight. The judge regarded him as an unreliable witness while Mr Mangan was very truthful and frank.
There was no one other than himself to blame, the judge said of Mr Reilly.