Driver loses claim over 70kg stone lift

Judge criticises dumper truck driver for ‘exaggerated, unsubstantiated’ claim

 

Even an Olympic weightlifter would have considered the foolhardiness of lifting a 70 kilo kerbstone chest high to put it in a dumper truck, the Circuit Civil Court has heard.

Sean Walsh, a forensic consultant engineer, told Judge Mary O’Malley Costello the action of dumper driver Petru Muntian was foolhardy and totally inadvisable.

Muntian, a 34-year-old married man of Mount Andrew Rise, Lucan, Co Dublin, lost a €60,000 damages claim against John Sisk & Son Holdings, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 and his then employer PJ Personnel Limited, Tuam, Co Galway.

He told barrister Shane English, counsel for the defendants, that on March 14th 2016 he had been directed by PJ Personnel to take the dumper to Sisk’s work yard in East Wall, Dublin, to collect kerb stones and had been told to lift them onto the dumper.

Muntian, a Moldovan national, claimed that while attempting to lift a kerb stone onto the truck he experienced excruciating pain in his back and could not carry out any further lifting. It had transpired he had suffered an injury to his lower back.

He alleged the driver of a forklift machine on the Sisk site had refused to lift the kerbstones onto the dumper and had told him he was capable of lifting them himself. Two Sisk members of staff told the court that when they attended the scene there were no kerbstones in the dumper.

Mr Muntian stated he had been unable to work since the accident and claimed almost €40,000 in loss of earnings. Mr English cross-examined him closely about this and told him he was making up his alleged loss of earnings as he went along.

Judge O’Malley Costello said Mr Muntian’s claim for loss of earnings was “a matter of concern” for the court as the claim had been lodged with the defendants just days before the court hearing.

“I have not been provided with any evidence of the inability of the plaintiff to work save for a short period when he did a small house painting job,” the judge said.

Judge O’Malley Costello said that with regard to his back injury Mr Muntian had stated in evidence this had occurred while he was stepping down from the dumper on the day after the alleged kerb-lifting incident. She said the court had been left with a lot of confusion as there was no clarity as to the cause and date of the accident.

The judge said the defendants had provided a safe system of work which had not been obeyed by Mr Muntian and she could not find there had been negligence on the part of the defendants.

“He has come into court with an exaggerated claim which has not been substantiated and I have to find against him as I cannot attribute fault to the defendants,” Judge O’Malley Costello said.

She dismissed the claim and awarded costs against Mr Muntian.