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€59k for swimmer injured in pier slip

A MAN who slipped on algae on the steps of a pier as he was about to go for a swim has been awarded €59,050 in High Court damages.

Self-employed barber Joseph McGrath (58) sued Fingal Co Council over the accident at Rush, Co Dublin, on July 27, 2009. He broke his arm and twisted his ankle and was out of work for three months.

He claimed the council was negligent in failing to make safe the pier which it knew or should have known was in a dangerous condition and which was popular among bathers.

The council denied the claims and argued Mr McGrath was liable or partly liable by failing to exercise any or adequate caution for his own safety. It was also argued he failed to negotiate the steps in a careful manner.

The court heard Mr McGrath, of Johnstown, Navan, Co Meath, his 14-year-old son and his wife's niece, went swimming from the pier on a summer evening.

On his third time descending the steps, the court was told Mr McGrath he slipped on a moss-like marine plant and fell heavily on his elbow. He slid down the remaining six steps and came to a rest on the seabed.

Awarding him €59,050, Mr Justice Daniel Herbert said he was satisfied the council, as the authority responsible for the pier, knew members of the public were using the pier steps for swimming even though they had originally been built for boating purposes.

The council had failed to take any proper or adequate precaution to prevent injury to recreational users, he said.


The evidence had established the council made some effort, by occasionally applying chemical sprays, to control the growth of algae on the steps.

This was not enough to render the steps sufficiently free of algae and marine organisms to allow swimmers descend and ascend the steps in safety.

To have accepted that risk and not to have taken any of the simple remedies available, including the installation of a handrail, amounted to reckless disregard for the safety of recreational users of the pier, he said.

There was also no positive evidence that Mr McGrath was careless or incautious, he said.