Monday 11 December 2017

Widow who injured her back after sun roof in daughter's car 'blew away' awarded €25k

Her daughter was awarded €12,500

Kathleen Boylan, and her daughter Pamela Boylan. Pic: Collins Court
Kathleen Boylan, and her daughter Pamela Boylan. Pic: Collins Court

Ray Managh

A 72-year-old widow, who injured her back when the sun roof in her daughter’s car blew away as it sped along the M1, has been awarded €25,000 damages against car supplier Denis Mahony Limited.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, heard in the Circuit Civil Court today “it was like a bomb going off in the car” when the air rushed in.

Barrister John Nolan told the court that Pamela Boylan was driving her family to Newry, Co Down, for a pre-Christmas shopping when the accident happened and she had to slam on the brakes injuring five adults as they were knocked “forwards and then backwards” in the car.

Pamela (43) of Hampton Wood Road, Finglas, Dublin, who was awarded €12,500 damages for neck and shoulder injuries suffered in the incident, said she was driving between 80 and 90 kilometres an hour when there was a bang and a sudden rush of air into the car.

She told Mr Nolan, who appeared with Kent Carty Solicitors, she immediately slammed on the brakes and pulled onto the hard shoulder. She had pulled in to an AppleGreen filling station where a black plastic bag was stuck over the hole in the roof and the November 2013 shopping trip abandoned.

Ms Boylan said her mother, widow and pensioner Kathleen Boylan, of Balbutcher Lane, Poppintree, Dublin, and three other family members in the car had been injured. 

A six months baby and a three-year-old child in a baby chair had escaped injury.

Mr Nolan said there were three other injury claims arising from the incident and would be heard later by the court.

Judge Groarke heard that the 2005 Toyota car had been bought from Denis Mahony’s four months before the incident and had been expected “to be fit for purpose and of merchantable quality and free from defects.”

David Geary, an independent motor assessor, told Mr Nolan he had examined the car and had found corrosion around the remaining frame of the sun roof.  If Mahony’s had inspected the sunroof the rust would have been visible.

Mr Geary said the extent of the corrosion indicated that it had been present on the vehicle prior to it having been sold by Denis Mahony, Kilbarrack Road, Dublin 5 to.  It would have been noticeable if the roof had been inspected adequately.

John Beirne, customer services manager at Denis Mahony, said the condition of the sun roof would have come under the heading of an electricals check on the car. 

When asked by Judge Groarke why the garage would not accept responsibility for the sun roof flying off the car he said: “I accept what you are saying.”

Judge Groarke awarding damages to both of the Boylans said there had been a serious defect in the car which had resulted in a catastrophic failure of the sun roof which could have been found had there been a full and adequate pre-sale inspection.

He accepted that the sun roof flying off at 90 kilometres an hour would have been a shocking and frightening experience and it was understandable that Ms Boylan’s immediate reaction would have been to slam on the brakes, jolting everyone in the car forwards and then backwards.

The judge said he accepted medical evidence that Ms Boylan senior had suffered a compression fracture of one of the vertebrae in her lower back and awarded her €25,000.  Ms Pamela Boylan had made a fairly quick recovery and he awarded her €12,500 damages.

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