Call for €1.65 million award after severe harvester injury

A Co. Cork farmer is claiming losses of €1.65 million after his hand was crushed in a combine harvester almost three years ago.

Gearoid Hurley, from Bandon, is suing contractor Mark Troy and Ardkeena Agri Services, in the High Court after alleging that he was asked to manually unclog the harvester in “dangerous and hazardous circumstances”.

While he was doing this, the machine was allegedly activated by Troy in “circumstances in which injury was likely to be caused”.

Also Read: Farmer goes to court after hand was ‘crushed’ in harvester

Under cross examination, Hurley said that the claim for losses under special damages include €80,000 for dairy cows which have been sold by his father, and a €55,000 tractor his father bought after the accident, which occurred on September 16, 2016.

“Those cows would have been coming to me,” argued Hurley, claiming that he was due to inherit the family dairy farm outside Bandon, but is now unable to work as a dairy farmer as his right hand is “compromised”.

The 97ac family farm was subsequently inherited by his sister instead, and then converted to beef, while Hurley took over a 79ac tillage farm near Cork Airport.

The High Court has heard liability for the incident has been withdrawn, and the court will now decide only on the issue of the €1.65 million damages, which includes approximately €500,000 for the loss of future earnings.

Hurley’s hand was trapped in the harvester for about an hour before fire-fighters cut through the auger of the machine to release him. He told the court of how he was “screaming in pain”, and that “blood was running down his sleeve into his pocket”.

“I come from a farming background. That is what I want for the future. I didn’t want to lease the farm. If I had not been injured, I would have done dairy farming,” Hurley told the court, adding: “Farming is my passion. It’s what I want to do. It is built in to a lot of people.”

He said that he couldn’t shake hands with his right hand, and that he couldn’t carry out tasks associated with dairy farming, including milking, fencing and dehorning.

Thomas Creed SC, counsel for both defendants, put it to Hurley that he “hates milking cows”, something that Hurely said was “untrue”.

The case is before Mr. Justice Kevin Cross of the High Court, and is set to continue tomorrow, Tuesday, July 23.