Monday 22 January 2018

Civil servant suffered whiplash after driving over retractable bollard in cemetery

Jean Taylor Mooney
Jean Taylor Mooney

Saurya Cherfi

A 49-year-old civil servant, who suffered whiplash injuries after she drove in a Dublin cemetery over a retractable bollard she had not noticed was rising up in front of her, has been awarded damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge John Hannan, initially awarding Jean Taylor Mooney €17,000 damages against Dublin Cemeteries Committee, which trades as Glasnevin Trust, said she was 40pc negligent and reduced her award to €10,500 damages.

The court was told that the bollard, which had an alarm and a flashing light, had started to rise a few seconds before impacting with Mooney’s bumper, and continued to rise under her car as she drove over it. 

Judge Hannan heard that in September 2013, Mooney had been driving her car inside the Glasnevin cemetery on Finglas Road, to visit her father’s grave, when the incident happened.  Her mother, Elizabeth Taylor, who was 82-year-old at the time, had been a passenger in the car. 

Mooney told her barrister, Nathan Reilly, that she did not use the visitor’s car park as her mother had difficulty walking.  She had been familiar with the retractable bollards system in the cemetery restricted area. 

She said that as she was driving she suddenly heard an explosion, followed by smoke and gas coming out of her car and the airbags were deployed.  She had gone out of her car immediately, concerned about her mother who was “hysterical.” 

Mooney, of Castle Village Woods, Cellbridge, Co Kildare, told Mr Reilly that she did not see the bollard rising, and had initially thought it had risen under her car. 

The court heard that she and her mother were attended to by cemetery staff, and her mother was taken by ambulance to hospital, complaining of physical chest pain. 

Mooney, a married mother of three who works with the Revenue Commissioners, said she suffered pain in her chest and swelling in her left hand.  She had been off work for several weeks.

Barrister Eamon Marray, for the cemetery, said his client denied liability and claimed Ms Mooney did not pay proper attention while she was driving. 

The court heard the area where the accident happened was restricted to ensure members of the public could not proceed, unless allowed to do so.  Ms Mooney said she had used the area several times with staff permission.

Judge Hannan said he was satisfied the cemetery should have ensured that a better warning system was in place, as the bollard was not the most conspicuous object to be seen on the driveway.  He said he also accepted that Ms Mooney had not paid due care and attention. 

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