Saturday 15 December 2018

Man did 67km triathlon - including hike up Croagh Patrick - weeks after allegedly suffering 'incapacitating injuries' in accident, court hears

A €60,000 damages claim by Graham Dunne, Castlecurragh Park, Blanchardstown, was thrown out on the basis he had given misleading information regarding his previous medical history

Cyclist. Stock photo
Cyclist. Stock photo

Ray Managh

A Dublin man took part in the 67k Gaelforce West triathlon only five weeks after allegedly suffering “incapacitating injuries” in a biking accident involving a hit and run driver, the Circuit Civil Heard Wednesday.

A €60,000 damages claim by Graham Dunne, Castlecurragh Park, Blanchardstown, was thrown out on the basis he had given misleading information regarding his previous medical history.

Conor Kearney, counsel for the MIBI which compensates victims of untraced motorists, told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, that Gaelforce West, the biggest one-day adventure race in Europe, involved kayaking and cycling and a hike up Croagh Patrick.

Mr Kearney, who appeared with solicitors Stephen Mackenzie and Co, told the court that Dunne, a 41-year-old telecommunications engineer, had misled a doctor about his past medical history.

He said that during an examination by Dr Pat O’Neill, a sports injury specialist, Dunne, a father-of-two, had concealed information about a second accident at the National Aquatic Centre in which he had sustained head and neck injuries and which he had settled out of court for €20,000.

Dunne claimed in his MIBI claim that he had suffered injuries to his chest wall, spine, right elbow and forearm and right calf when knocked off his bicycle in Main Street, Blanchardstown, in July 2017.

He denied, during a detailed cross-examination by Mr Kearney, that he had deliberately attempted to hide the fact that he had suffered similar injuries in the Aquatic Centre accident to what had happened him in the cycle accident.

Mr Kearney told the court that in accordance with Section 26 of the Civil Liabilities and Courts Act a court shall dismiss a claim where it considers a claimant has given evidence misleading in any material respect unless dismissal of the action would result in an injustice being done.

When closely examined about his failure to disclose the relevant injuries suffered in the Aquatic Centre accident Dunne said it may have been due to his naivety or stupidity.

Judge Groarke, dismissing Dunne’s claim and directing that he pay the MIBI’s legal costs, said Mr Dunne was an intelligent and well educated man and the questions he had been required to answer were relatively straightforward and uncomplicated.

Mr Dunne had been asked to give Dr O’Neill a medical history including previous accidents and hospitalisations and had merely stated that he had sustained minor sports injuries and skin lacerations when playing hurling and a skin burn injury to his right shoulder in childhood.

Judge Groarke said there had been complete silence when it came to the surgical examination and medical treatment he required following the Aquatic Centre accident in which he had to have stitches inserted in a head wound.

“It is compelling me to the conclusion that the plaintiff was misleading Dr O’Neill by failing to give him all the relevant details, not because of a misunderstanding but because of a determination not to reveal the Aquatic Centre accident,” Judge Groarke said.

“Once I find that is the case then his credibility in respect of otherwise plausible bits of information goes out the window. I cannot find any possible reason as to why I would consider an injustice would be done by dismissing the claim.”

The judge said it had to be stressed that the terms of Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act were onerous and plaintiffs would omit important information at their peril as had happened in the case before him.

David Fitzgerald, chief executive of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland, said following the case that the MIBI welcomed the court’s decision.

“As we outlined in out ‘Fighting Fraud’ strategy we are committed to contesting cases where the evidence does not back up the claim.  This is another example of that approach achieving justice and it is one we will continue to utilise for future claims,” he said.

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