Ex-Mr Ireland run down by bin truck gets €5m damages
A FORMER Mr Ireland, who suffered severe brain injuries after he was run over by a bin lorry seven years ago, has been awarded just under €5m damages against Dublin City Council in the High Court.
Mr Justice Michael Peart said in a reserved judgment that Padraig Hearns's night out on April 23, 2007, had ended in "utter tragedy, with the result that for the rest of his life he will be unable to live independently or be able to work again in any sort of meaningful employment".
He said Mr Hearns, an air steward who worked in first class on British Airways long-haul flights, was under the care of his elderly parents and also of his siblings.
Judge Peart said that Mr Hearns had been viciously assaulted and punched several times on the nose prior to the passing of the bin lorry in the narrow Sycamore Street in Dublin's Temple Bar.
The judge said it was unclear how Mr Hearns happened to be under the wheels of the lorry, but it was probable that as he was dazed and confused after being assaulted, he fell to the ground and moved in under the truck, perhaps not even knowing what he was doing.
The court had been told the five-man crew in the lorry heard a bang but had not paid notice as bags and bottles were regularly thrown into the back of the truck by passers-by.
Mr Hearns (39), of Lower Hollywood Cross, Hollywood, Co Wicklow, suffered a skull fracture and had been in an induced coma for over a week. He spent several months in hospital, had suffered significant cognitive impairments and also needed arm and eye operations.
The court had heard that Mr Hearns, who represented Ireland at the Mr World contest, had tyre marks on his back and head after the accident.
In his judgment, Judge Peart said Dublin City Council had breached its duty of care that day when the lorry moved off without a man having remained outside to ensure it was safe to do so.
He said the local authority had ignored its own by-laws, implemented three months before the accident, which do not allow the collection of commercial waste between 12pm and 6am in the area.
"It makes complete sense from a public safety point of view that these large refuse trucks would not be permitted to try and negotiate their way through an area such as the narrow and crowded streets of Temple Bar when so many people are present."
Judge Peart awarded Mr Hearns €3,435,000 for future care costs; €150,000 for past pain and suffering and €200,000 for future pain and suffering. He awarded him €266,341 for loss of earnings as well as €155,230 for hospital and other care costs to date.
The judge said total damages amounted to € 4,885, 888 and he would award that figure along with legal costs.
The proceedings were adjourned for mention until October 8.