Man who lost half his foot in quarry accident gets €453k
A man who lost half his foot when it was crushed by the metal wheel track of a rock- handling machine in a quarry has been awarded €453,000 in High Court damages.
Mr Justice Michael Hanna said David McLaughlin's employers had created a false story about the accident to try to protect them from their lawful obligations.
Mr McLaughlin (30), originally from Buncrana, Co Donegal, but now living in the US, sued McDaid Quarries Ltd, of Burnfoot, Co Donegal, over the accident in June 2003 when he was aged just 17. The machine involved was used to pick up large rocks and transfer them into a crusher.
He also sued quarry owners Michael and Charlie McDaid, as well as a third brother, Damien McDaid, who drove him to hospital.
Mr Justice Hanna was satisfied 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 claim to an insurance company.
He also did not believe evidence of Damien McDaid, who claimed the false story was agreed between him (Damien) and Mr McLaughlin as they drove to Altnegelvin Hospital in Derry, where doctors saved the boy from a life-threatening injury but had to amputate half of his right foot.
He rejected the defendants' application to strike out the case because of the original false story. He said it would be "a grotesque injustice if the authors of a bogus claim" could rely on the law governing false claims, having themselves created "a web of deceit designed to shelter them from their obligations under law".
He 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.
The judge said the Motor Insurer's Bureau of Ireland, which compensates victims of uninsured driving, had originally been sued along with the McDaid defendants. But the case against the bureau was struck out when the story about a truck going over his foot was revealed to be untrue.
The machine was driven by Declan Doherty, then aged 17, who had claimed he turned up at the quarry and asked Mr McLaughlin for "a go" on the machine. He claimed Mr McLaughlin wanted to test the steel-capped boots he was wearing by letting the track of the machine go over it.
Mr Doherty drove the machine and claimed when it went over his foot Mr McLaughlin was "squealing" in pain.
Mr Doherty fled the scene and was not located for some years. He turned up in court only under subpoena and claimed he was scared to give evidence.
Mr Justice Hanna granted leave to appeal Mr McLaughlin's €453,000 award, which includes payment for replacing his prosthetic foot every year, on the basis that €150,000 be paid over immediately.