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'People are far too litigious' - judge throws out GAA fan's €60,000 claim

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Order: Martin Harte must pay the GAA’s legal costs in defending the case. Photo: Collins Courts

Order: Martin Harte must pay the GAA’s legal costs in defending the case. Photo: Collins Courts

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Order: Martin Harte must pay the GAA’s legal costs in defending the case. Photo: Collins Courts

The GAA has hailed as a "landmark decision" the dismissal of a personal injury claim brought by an officer with the Department of Justice after he fell at a Cavan-Dublin game.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane praised the level of care taken by the GAA to safeguard fans when throwing out the €60,000 personal injuries claim brought by 41-year-old Dublin supporter Martin Harte, of Cappagh Avenue, Finglas West, over an incident at Kingspan Breffni in 2017.

"People are far too litigious," Judge Linnane said.

"There is an expectation that owners of premises have to go to extreme lengths to try and prevent falls."

Mr Harte had claimed that although it had been a dry day, the steps had been dangerously wet and slippery from overnight rain and the nosing of each step had been made more slippery due to having been painted.

He fell, injuring his left shoulder and back.

Judge Linnane told Cavan County Board chairman Kieran Callaghan that the stadium management had gone to remarkable lengths to ensure the safety of members of the public attending matches.

She ordered Mr Harte to pay the legal costs of Cumann Lúthchleas Gael in defending the damages claim in which he alleged the sports body had been negligent in the provision, care and maintenance of steps exiting the open plan south terrace at Kingspan Breffni.

Mr Callaghan told the Circuit Civil Court that if the GAA was compelled to introduce unrealistic remedies to 42,000 concrete steps in Breffni Park, as suggested by a forensic expert on behalf of Mr Harte, it would also have to rebuild every stadium in Ireland.

The court heard there had been more than 16,000 spectators in the ground on the day and that more than a million people had been through the turnstiles without untoward incident in the past 10 years.

Susan Brady, public relations officer with Cavan County Board, described the decision as "landmark" and "incredibly important" for the future of GAA.

"It is a very positive outcome for the GAA, public liability and all businesses in Ireland," she told the Irish Independent.

"We were unaware of any incident on that day. Nobody came to us, nobody had spoken to us and it wasn't until many months later when we got a solicitor's letter did we realise there was an incident.

"We have a full medical crew, two ambulances and two doctors depending on the size of the event and he didn't seek medical assistance at the game.

"There is very tight event management and everything is done to the letter of the law.

"Incidents and accidents do happen, and that's what the insurance is for, but we knew we had an excellent system in place and that's why we decided to fight the case."

Irish Independent