Thursday 20 June 2019

Soccer player who broke his ankle in five-a-side game settles case

Hichem Kerfah with an address in Versailles, France, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a Circuit Civil Court action. Photo: Collins
Hichem Kerfah with an address in Versailles, France, pictured leaving the Four Courts after a Circuit Civil Court action. Photo: Collins

Tim Healy

A man who claimed he broke his ankle in a five-a-side football game because a metal fence was too close to the pitch has settled an action for damages.

Hichem Kerfah (36), formerly of Marrowbone Lane, Dublin, now living in Marseille, France, sued over the accident on the astro-turf pitch at O'Connells Secondary School, North Richmond Street, Dublin, on January 15, 2013.

The school board of management, and the association which ran the five-a-side game, MFTB O'Connells Secondary School Indoor Football, denied negligence and breach of duty.

Mr Kerfah sued in the Circuit Court which ruled he failed to prove his claim.  

He then appealed to the High Court which was told on Thursday by his counsel Declan McGovern (instructed by John Synott & Co Solicitors) that, following talks, the case had been settled.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons struck out the action, set aside an order for costs against him in the Circuit Court  and made an order for costs in his favour on the Circuit Court scale.

Earlier, Mr McGovern said it was part of their case that the metal wall running along the pitch was recommended to be at least two metres from the white line under FAI guidelines.   This wall was just two feet away.

The defendants argued having the wall two metres from the pitch side  was not an official requirement, merely a recommendation. 

It was also contended the game should not have been permitted because of icy conditions on the night in question.

Mr Kerfah slid on ice and fractured his left ankle after hitting the metal wall, the court heard.  He required surgery, was in plaster for ten weeks when he also had to use crutches and was unable to return to his part-time restaurant work for three months.   He still suffered pain, particularly during cold weather.

Mr Kerfah, who came to Ireland in 2007, said he regularly played five-a-side soccer with some friends and had been to O'Connells a number of times before the accident.

He and an opponent were going for the ball at the same time when, as he reached the ball first, he slipped and crashed against the wall.

Under cross examination by Robert Beatty SC, for indoor football association, he did not accept it was "simply a football accident".

He agreed that as a adult he could have made a decision not to play because of the icy conditions but disagreed with counsel that it was "nobody's fault except your own".

He agreed he had no issue with the condition of the pitch.  "That is except for the walls, they are dangerous, really dangerous", he said.

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