Monday 23 September 2019

Welder who tripped over walking aid loses claim

Case thrown out: Bus passenger James Thomson lost his claim. Picture: Collins
Case thrown out: Bus passenger James Thomson lost his claim. Picture: Collins

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 tripped on the man's walking aid due to his own negligence.

Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, in dismissing Mr Thomson's claim, said a CCTV recording of the incident revealed he pushed past the elderly man "at some speed".

Mr Thomson (62) told the court that on December 16, 2016, he had been boarding the bus in Thomas Street, and found himself blocked behind the 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," said Mr Thomson, of Old Kilmainham.

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

Mr Thomson said he had gone home after the incident and had taken painkillers, 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 because of the injury, and often felt cramp between his wrist and elbow.

Mr Thomson said the elderly man's walking aid had been protruding into the bus aisle and he had tripped on it. He felt that Dublin Bus should see to it such passengers 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 Mr Thomson: "Why can't you wait." He saw Mr Thomson fall as he moved past, the court heard.

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 Mr Thomson's €60,000 claim and awarding costs against him, Judge Groarke said it would be far too onerous for 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 Átha Cliath," Judge Groarke said.

Irish Independent

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