Wednesday 18 October 2017

Car dealer will have to pay over €100k in costs after sun roof blown off car

Kathleen Boylan, (72) and her daughter Pamela Boylan (43).Pic: Collins Court
Kathleen Boylan, (72) and her daughter Pamela Boylan (43).Pic: Collins Court

Ray Managh

The cost to a car dealer of a defective sun roof having blown off a car on the M1 crossed the €100,000 mark in damages and legal costs.

The Circuit Civil Court has been told that five passengers had been injured in a second hand Toyota bought from car supplier Denis Mahony Kilbarrack when the incident occurred in November 2013.

Driver Pamela Boylan (43) of Hampton Wood Road, Finglas, Dublin, was awarded €12,500 damages against Mahony. Her mother, widower and pensioner Kathleen Boylan, of Balbutcher Lane, Poppintree, Dublin, was awarded €25,000.

Two other passengers had been awarded €16,000 and €15,000 and today barrister John Nolan told Circuit Court President, Mr Raymond Groarke, that the fifth passenger, Dean Waters, Shangan Avenue, Ballymun, Dublin, had accepted a settlement of €15,000.

Total damages in the case amounted to €83,500 with legal costs driving the final figure to close on €120,000.

Judge Groarke had heard that Pamela Boylan had been driving her family north on a pre-Christmas shopping trip to Newry when the sun roof suddenly blew off the car.

“It was like a bomb going off in the car,” Ms Boylan told the court.  She said all five in the car had been injured but fortunately a six months old baby and a three-year-old child were unhurt when she suddenly had to slam on the brakes and pull suddenly onto the hard shoulder.

Mr Nolan, who appeared with Kent Carty Solicitors for all of the family, told the court everyone had been knocked “forwards and then backwards” as the car drew to a halt.

He said the car had been purchased from Denis Mahony Limited and had been expected “to be fit for purpose and of merchantable quality and free from defects.”

David Geary, an independent motor assessor, told the court he had examined the car and found corrosion around the remaining frame of the sun roof.  He said if Mahony’s had inspected the sunroof the rust would have been visible.

Mr Geary said the extent of the corrosion indicated that it had been present on the vehicle prior to it having been sold by Denis Mahony, Kilbarrack Road, Dublin, four months prior to the incident.  He said it would have been visible had Mahonys adequately inspected the sunroof pre-sale.

A staff member for Denis Mahony Limited said the condition of the sun roof would have come under the heading of an electricals check on the car.  He accepted what the judge was “saying” when asked why the garage would not accept responsibility for the sunroof flying off the car.

Judge Groarke initially held there had been a serious defect in the car which had resulted in a catastrophic failure of the sunroof which could have been found had there been a full and adequate pre-sale inspection.

He accepted the incident happening at 90 kilometres an hour would have been a shocking and frightening experience for all and it was understandable that the driver’s immediate reaction was to slam on the brakes, jolting everyone in the car forwards and then backwards.

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