Injured festival-goer loses case after getting stuck in mud at Oxegen

Man sued MCD after he was knocked over and trampled and fractured ankle

File photograph of the Oxegen music festival, Punchestown, Co. Kildare.Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

File photograph of the Oxegen music festival, Punchestown, Co. Kildare.Photograph Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

A man who sued after he got stuck in the mud at the Oxegen Festival and was knocked over and trampled, fracturing his ankle, is facing a substantial legal costs bill after losing his action for damages at the High Court.

It was “regrettable” Mark Ponisi sustained a serious ankle injury at the 2007 festival but it was neither just nor fair to seek to hold concert promoters MCD liable for that, Ms Justice Mary Irvine said.

“Unfortunately, it is cases such as this one which put at risk the holding of the type of large outdoor events which give so much pleasure to so many people”, she added.

She dismissed the case and also awarded costs against Mr Ponisi (36), a software engineer, with the effect he has to pay the costs of concert promoters MCD as well as those incurred by his own side in the two day case.

In her judgment, Ms Justice Irvine said he sustained his injuries as a result of “some recklessly robust behaviour” on the part of one or more other concert goers who for some reason suddenly and without warning knocked him to the ground.

“It is not just or fair for Mr Ponisi to now seek to render MCD liable for his injuries when they were not aware either of the intended actions of these individuals or the allegedly hazardous nature of the underfoot conditions,” she said.

“Organisers of these events can only do what is reasonable in order to provide for the safety of those who attend. It is simply not possible to expect a company seeking to organise a festival such as Oxegen against a backdrop of poor weather conditions to provide a site that will remain mud free for 80,000 people over a weekend against a backdrop of six weeks of bad weather.”

She ruled MCD was not negligent but added, if she had found it was, she would have awarded €60,000 damages.

She found Oxegen 2007 was planned and managed in a manner which was reasonable in all of the circumstances for the proposes of seeking to protect the safety of festival goers from injuries that might occur due to the poor underfoot conditions.

She did not believe MCD could be considered to have been negligent merely because there may have been some area in arena one, where the incident occurred, which had a few inches of mud present.

Having regard to the level of staffing in arena one, she found, if any significant area of ground had become particularly hazardous, this would have been noticed and dealt with by the staff.

She said MCD did all that could reasonably be expected of it, both prior to and during the festival, to protect those attending from the risk of injury due to poor ground conditions generated by weather conditions in the weeks leading up to the event.

Mr Ponisi, Roselawn, Tipper Road, Naas, Co Kildare had sued MCD Productions Ltd, promoter of Oxygen 2007 in Punchestown,Co Kildare. He claimed his feet became caught in mud on July 7th 2007, he was unable to move during a surge in the crowd and as a result, he fell violently to the ground and sustained injuries.

American rock bank Kings of Leon were on stage when Mr Ponisi was left screaming in pain with a fractured ankle.He told the court the mud was about three inches deep in the place where he was standing, about 100 metres from the stage.