Garda injured as he helped stretcher body settles claim
A garda who sued after he claimed he hurt his back helping stretcher a body from cliffs has settled his High Court action for damages.
Sergeant Brian Clune (43) from Donabate in Dublin says he twisted his back as the body of a person who had fallen off a cliff at Howth, Co Dublin, on to rocks below was transferred to an RNLI lifeboat to be brought ashore.
He sued the Garda Commissioner as a result of the injury he allegedly sustained in June 2009.
It was claimed neither Sgt Clune, nor any other member of the force, was provided with any manual handling training.
The claims were denied.
The Garda Commissioner claimed there was contributory negligence on the part of Sgt Clune and he was the author of his own misfortune.
Declan Doyle SC, for Sgt Clune, said his client was in the garda station when a call came in to say a body was in the water to the east beyond the pier in Howth.
Sgt Clune and his colleagues drove as close as they could.
"They had to scramble down cliffs to the place where the body was washed against the rocks. There was no beach, it was very rough terrain," counsel said.
The operation was co-ordinated with the mountain rescue team and the RNLI lifeboat.
A decision was made that the best way to bring the body to shore was by water. Sgt Clune, other garda members and other people managed to get the body on to the stretcher.
The lifeboat was pulled on to the rocks at the nearest place and the body was put in a bag and strapped on to a stretcher.
Sgt Clune, his colleagues and other personnel carried it for 30m to 100m across rocky and rough terrain to the lifeboat.
In the process of transferring the body from the stretcher to the lifeboat, Sgt Clune said, he twisted and injured his back.
When they returned to the boat house in Howth, and while the strap securing the body was being undone, Sgt Clune was splashed with blood and other fluids from the body bag and the corpse, which caused further distress, counsel said.
At the time, he thought he had pulled a muscle and did not appreciate it was a very significant injury.
Sgt Clune had a lot of physiotherapy afterwards but continued to have difficulty with his lower back, counsel said.
Following talks, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns was told the case had been settled and could be struck out.