Firm denied appeal of €453,000 award to man who lost half his foot

Quarry owners argued that injured party made false statement in original claim

The Supreme Court has refused to hear another appeal over a €453,000 damages award made to a man who lost half his foot. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

The Supreme Court has refused to hear another appeal over a €453,000 damages award made to a man who lost half his foot. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

The Supreme Court has refused to hear another appeal over a €453,000 damages award made to a man who lost half his foot when it was crushed by the metal wheel track of a quarry machine.

The appeal was sought by one of the owners of McDaid Quarries of Burnfoot, Co Donegal, where David McLaughlin suffered the injury in June 2003 while working there. He was 17 at the time.

Mr McLaughlin, who has since moved to the US, was awarded €453,000 by the High Court against the quarry company, its owners Charles and Michael McDaid, and a third brother, Damien McDaid, who had driven him to hospital.

The Court of Appeal last January dismissed an appeal by the McDaids and the company over the award, and Charles McDaid sought a further appeal.

However, the Supreme Court, in a written determination, refused leave to appeal, saying he had not raised a point of law of general public importance or shown an appeal was necessary in the interests of justice.

The major ground of appeal related to the fact that Mr McLaughlin made a false statement in his claim for compensation.

In the original claim, Mr McLaughlin said a lorry had run over his foot rather than the rock machine.

Implausible

When the case went ahead, Mr McLaughlin told the truth, the trial judge, Mr Justice Michael Hanna found. He found Michael and Charlie McDaid had “created and promulgated” an entirely false and implausible story that a lorry had run over his foot so they could put in a fraudulent insurance claim.

The judge did not believe the evidence of Damien McDaid who claimed the false story was agreed between him and Mr McLaughlin as they drove to Altnegelvin Hospital in Derry, where doctors had to amputate half of his right foot.

The judge did not believe Mr McLaughlin had been in any state to “hatch such a story” as he was being driven to hospital because he was in huge distress, losing a lot of blood and going in an out of consciousness.

He further found Mr McLaughlin was a vulnerable person who was pressured to go along with the story in particular because of the “evident hold” Charles McDaid held over him.

Misleading

The McDaids had argued in the Court of Appeal that the case should be dismissed under a provision allowing the courts to strike out claims based on false and misleading evidence.

However, Mr Justice Hanna ruled that findings of fact cannot be disturbed. It also held the trial judge’s refusal to dismiss the claim on the basis of the false evidence argument was the proper exercise of his discretion.

In refusing to hear another appeal, the Supreme Court said relevant case law demonstrates that an action where there is a false statement should “not be dismissed if such a step would create an injustice”.

The High Court, having considered the totality of the evidence, was of such a view and the Court of Appeal had found this was within jurisdiction, it said.