Sunday 15 September 2019

Man (62) who tripped while pushing past elderly man on Dublin Bus loses €60k damages claim

James Thomson of Old Kilmainham, Dublin 8 pictured leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in his Circuit Civil Court action. Photo: Collins Courts
James Thomson of Old Kilmainham, Dublin 8 pictured leaving the Four Courts after giving evidence in his Circuit Civil Court action. Photo: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A jobless welder, who tripped in a bus and seriously hurt himself while pushing past an elderly man on a Zimmer frame, has lost a €60,000 damages claim against Dublin Bus.

Barrister Jeri Ward, counsel for the bus company, told the Circuit Civil Court that James Thomson had tripped on the old man’s walking aid due to his own negligence and said Dublin Bus could not be held responsible.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, in dismissing Thomson’s claim, said that a CCTV recording of the incident revealed he had made a decision to push past the elderly man “at some speed.”

Thomson, who is 62, told the court that on 16th December 2016 he had been boarding the bus in Thomas Street, Dublin, and found himself blocked behind the old man on the Zimmer frame in the aisle of the bus.

“At least on three occasions I said ‘excuse me please’ but the man refused to move,” Thomson, of Old Kilmainham, Dublin 8, said.

He told Ms Ward, who appeared with CIE Solicitor Hugh Hannon, that when he attempted to pass the man on the walking aid he had tripped on the Zimmer frame and fell. The next thing he remembered was waking up and hearing a young man saying: “I’m calling an ambulance.”

Thomson said he had gone home after the incident and had taken pain killers, believing that pain in his left arm would clear up. A few days later he had gone to the Mater Hospital injury clinic where an x-ray had revealed he had broken his arm.

He said he had been a keen golfer but now could not play the game because of the injury. He had a plaster of Paris on his arm for weeks after the accident and often felt cramp between his wrist and elbow.

Thomson said the elderly man’s walking aid had been protruding into the bus aisle and he had tripped on it. He felt that in the case of special needs passengers Dublin Bus should see to it they were seated first in the seating section for disabled people at the front of the bus before dealing with other customers.

Bus driver Albert Sithebe said he had been dealing with the elderly gentleman when he heard him say to Thomson: “Why can’t you wait.”  He saw Thomson fall as he moved past.

Judge Groarke, on viewing a CCTV replay of what had happened, said there was no evidence of Mr Thomson ever having spoken to the elderly gentleman on the bus. 

“He made a determination to move past the elderly gentleman at some speed and fell like a log,” the judge said.

Throwing out Thomson’s €60,000 claim and awarding costs against him, Judge Groarke said it would be demanding far too onerous and too high a standard of care from Dublin Bus to stop other passengers boarding until infirm or elderly passengers were seated. People had a duty to exercise care for their own safety.

“Unfortunately for the plaintiff he has suffered a very nasty injury but I cannot find any negligence on the part of Bus Atha Cliath,” Judge Groarke said.

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