Friday 28 July 2017

Champion bodybuilder who 'had difficulty lacing his shoes' withdrew €60k claim following video evidence

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Ray Managh

A champion bodybuilder and fitness coach, who claimed he had difficulty pulling on his socks and lacing his shoes since a car accident last year, sued a motorist for €60,000 personal injury damages but dramatically withdrew his claim following video evidence.

Relu Gauca (37) of Old Burrin, Carlow, told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, today that he still has to ease himself out of soft low chairs because of ongoing pain in his lower back.

He told barrister Shane English, counsel for the insurers of David Naughton, Millford Park, Ballinabranna, Co Carlow, that despite continuing weight lifting and bodybuilding coaching in a local gym he still suffered pain in his lower back.

When cross-examined by Mr English, who appeared with Hayes McGrath Solicitors, Gauca denied lying to the court about the extent of his injuries.

He said that neck and shoulder pains resolved about three months after his accident on 30th January 2016 on Dublin’s Infirmary Road but his lower back pain persists to this day.

Gauca said he had to undergo a regime of stretches each night before going to bed and every morning when he rises to ease his pain which radiated down his right leg.  He still had a restricted range of movement regarding his lower back and found it difficult to pull on his socks or lace his shoes in the morning.

He told the court he had to undergo a series of physio sessions with Conor McGregor’s physiotherapist which had helped him but “even now in the witness box” he felt pain in his lower back. 

Sitting and standing caused him problems and had led to him giving up a job in the security business.

When shown a number of photographic grabs from his Facebook posts and a video of him working out in a gym since the accident and participating in and presenting national bodybuilding shows as well as coaching activities, Gauca said he was able to do so because of his stretching regime and in a way that protected his lower back.

Medical reports presented to the court revealed that Gauca had undergone an MRI scan which had shown degenerative changes in his lower spine resulting in a bulge of one of his vertebrae. He said he never had this complaint prior to the accident.

Judge Groarke had been told that liability was conceded in the case which had become an assessment of damages for injuries suffered in the crash when a friend’s car, in which Gauca was a passenger, rear ended another vehicle.

He said he had been thrown forwards and immediately felt pain in his lower back.  He had been taken by ambulance to the Mater Hospital and had been discharged into the care of his own GP following initial examination and treatment.

Following oral and video evidence in court Judge Groarke said he accepted that Mr Gauca had received injuries to his neck and shoulders as confirmed by his medical team.  However, he was being asked to make a medical finding with regard to Mr Gauca’s lower back injury and its association with his continuing gym training.

Judge Groarke said the doctors who had provided medical reports on behalf of the defendant had not seen the photographs and video evidence presented to the court and he felt that they should before the court was asked to assess the extent of the overall injuries and what figure of compensation he should award.

He said it was a matter between the legal parties whether the doctors viewed the evidence outside of court or on the next occasion when the case could be listed for completion.  The judge said he felt he should hear expert medical opinion with regard to the video evidence he had been shown in court.

Gauca’s claim was put back for completion in June following the Whit vacation which begins at the end of May but following talks between the parties Gauca’s legal team went back into court just before lunch and withdrew his case with no further order.

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