Tuesday 23 October 2018

'Foolish' factory worker awarded €57k damages for horrific injury to little finger

Robert Whelan who was awarded €57,000 damages following a Circuit Civil Court action
Photo: Collins Courts
Robert Whelan who was awarded €57,000 damages following a Circuit Civil Court action Photo: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A “FOOLISH” general operative, who suffered what was described as a horrific injury to the little finger of his right hand, has been awarded €57,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court against his employer.

Noel Cosgrove, counsel for Robert Whelan, of Rowlagh Green, Clondalkin, Dublin, said his client had been loading the frozen section of a trailer when an insulated curtain jammed.  In a bid to release it he had pulled it and in the process suffered a significant crush injury to his finger.

Mr Cosgrove, who appeared with Maguire McClafferty Solicitors, said Mr Whelan (41) had been working with Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland Limited at their factory premises at Fonthill, Clondalkin, when the incident occurred on September 5 2014.

He said the defendant had entered a full defence in which it claimed Mr Whelan had been fully trained for his work but had not complied with this training on the day. He had allegedly attempted to yank the curtain closed while leaving his hand between the curtain and the wall of the trailer.

The court heard that following the accident Mr Whelan’s finger was markedly swollen but following an application of “Coldfreeze” and first aid he had returned to work on the day.

When he had attended the casualty department of Hermitage Hospital 12 days later x-ray examination revealed his finger had been broken.

Two days later he had been operated on by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who had fixed the fracture with wires. However two months later he complained of being unable to bend the tip of the finger fully and had undergone surgery a second time.

Mr Whelan had sued his employer on the basis of negligence and breach of statutory duty in that he had been directed to carry out an unsafe system of work.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan, awarding Whelan damages for personal injuries of €50,000 and €7,000 for loss of earnings, said he faced a risk of developing arthritis within the next 10 years.  He now worked as a wood machinist and his injury affected his daily work.

Judge O’Sullivan said there was a clear breach of statutory duty on the part of the defendant.  What Mr Whelan had done was “an act of foolishness” on his part but he could not be held responsible for contributory negligence as he would have had to show a blatant disregard for his own safety which he had not done.

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