Friday 18 January 2019

Man 'lucky to survive' when tree fell on him during storm awarded €165k

Stock photo:PA
Stock photo:PA

Tim Healy

A MAN who suffered multiple severe injuries when a tree fell on him in stormy weather has settled his High Court action for €165,000.

John Haskins Junior was lucky he survived the accident four years ago, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said.

The 37-year-old sustained fractures to the spine, ribs and ankle and was in hospital for two months afterwards.

Mr Haskins Jnr from Athy,Co Kildare through his father, John Haskins Snr, sued Camphill Communities of Ireland, owner of a health care facility at Dunshane House, Brannmockstown, Naas, Co Kildare, as a result of the accident on February 12, 2014.

Mr Haskins jun, who has Asperger syndrome, was at the time an inpatient of the health care facility.

It was claimed that while he was walking through the garden of the facility, a mature beech tree fell on him.

It was claimed the tree was allowed to become or remain a danger and a trap to people in the vicinity as it was allegedly diseased.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to maintain, repair or removed the tree or take measures as were reasonably necessary to make it safe.

It was also claimed there was a failure to take any adequate or effective measures to fence off or secure the area or to have the tree felled.

The claims were denied. It was contended the tree was alive and had the outward appearance of a healthy tree.

The crown of the tree and the majority of the lower stem of the tree appeared outwardly live and intact, it was argued.

There was decay in the tree root which could not have been detected by anyone other than a trained arboriculturist, the defendant said.

Camphill also said it did not know and could not have know at the material time there was decay in the tree roots.

Hugh Mohan SC, for Mr Haskins, said an expert report for his side concluded there was  a decay  fungus in the tree and it had caused rot to the roots which resulted in the wood becoming degraded and subject to fracture.

An expert for the other side submitted the entire tree and roof plate were overturned and because of the particular storm at the time any prudent landowner, having for example inspected the tree a week before, could not have predicted this type of scenario.

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said Mr Haskins has suffered significant injuries and had made a fantastic recovery.

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