Pest controller loses €38,000 claim after falling off ladder
A PEST controller who was called to an 84-year-old woman's home to clear bees from the attic has failed in a €38,000 damages claim against her.
William Farrell (60), of Rathdrum Road, Crumlin, Dublin, is now faced with legal costs of almost €20,000 after losing his claim against Betty Doyle, of Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin.
Barrister Frank Beatty, counsel for wheelchair-bound Mrs Doyle, told the court that Mr Farrell alleged she had provided him with a faulty ladder to get in and out of her attic.
He said Mr Farrell had also jointly sued his employer, the Health Service Executive, who had sent him to Mrs Doyle's home to deal with the bee problem after she had telephoned them for help.
Mr Beatty said the HSE provided the pest control service free of charge to people who did not have the physical capacity to deal with it themselves.
Mr Farrell told Circuit Court president Mr Justice Matthew Deery that he had been given a small 'A' ladder by Mrs Doyle in order to reach and open the attic trapdoor at the top of the stairs landing.
Once opened, he had pulled down an extending ladder, which he had used to get into the attic. He had been wearing a protective suit and head mask and carrying a spray canister weighing about "half a stone".
He said that having sprayed the nest of bees he was on his way down the attic ladder when it had broken off, causing him to fall backwards, injuring his lower back.
Mr Farrell said he had been taken to Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, by ambulance and following treatment had returned to Mrs Doyle's home.
He denied having demanded compensation from her.
Mrs Doyle told the court the attic ladder had not been properly extended by Mr Farrell, which, she said, had caused the accident.
She said Mr Farrell had returned to her home and had told her he would be out of work for some time with his injuries and "needed a few pounds compensation", which she had refused to give him.
Mr Justice Deery said he accepted the evidence of engineer Sean Walsh who had stated that if not properly extended the weight of a person swinging on the ladder could have ripped it from the hinges. He dismissed Mr Farrell's claims, awarding costs against him in both cases.
With his own legal costs, he now faces a bill in the region of €20,000.