€60,000 injury claim against agricultural show thrown out due to ‘misleading evidence’

By Gordon Deegan

A judge has thrown out a woman’s €60,000 personal injury claim for a back injury, after finding that she gave “misleading” evidence in court.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Brian O’Callaghan dismissed the woman’s claim against the County Clare Agricultural Show Society.

He stated that the evidence by the claimant “was in some respects unreliable, in many respects quite inconsistent and quite clearly faulty in other respects”.

Judge O’Callaghan stated: “I have no option but to dismiss the claim.”

He also found that the woman, a resident of Ennis, gave “misleading” evidence and ordered her to pay the costs of the County Clare Agricultural Show Society.

Judge O’Callaghan stated that the defendant company in the case (the show society) is “a voluntary organisation and is doing its best”.

The claimant alleged that she suffered the back injury when trying to open a door of a large shed where her daughter’s two ponies were being kept at the show society’s showgrounds in Ennis on October 29, 2015.

She told the court: “What I have now is not back pain – anyone can have back pain – what I am going through is torture. I couldn’t stand for a while.”

In evidence, she also stated: “I am telling the truth” and later: “I stand by what I have sworn. I don’t lie.”

The claimant told the court that she requires injections to deal with the continuing pain she suffers in her back.

Judge O’Callaghan stated that an MRI scan of her back, eight months after the alleged incident of October 2015, showed “degenerative changes”.

Judge O’Callaghan said that it was clear that the woman does suffer from some discomfort – “to put it mildly” – from her back pain.

However, Judge O’Callaghan stated that the court was entitled to believe that the degenerative changes pre-dated the alleged incident.

The woman had previously obtained a €27,200 settlement concerning a personal injury claim from a road traffic accident that occurred in 2013.

Counsel for the County Clare Agricultural Show Society, Moira Flahive, stated that at no time in her direct evidence or in her claim did the claimant state she had any back problems before the alleged ‘door’ incident.

However, Flahive stated that in the woman’s claim concerning the 2013 personal injury action made three months prior to the alleged ‘door’ incident in October 2015, her GP had noted “severe pain in her lower back with reduced range of movement”.

In evidence, the claimant stated that, during the night of the door incident in October 2015, she “could not turn in the bed and kept waking up with pain”.

Judge O’Callaghan found that this was an inconsistency in her evidence, as she was able to attend her legal office the following day concerning the 2013 claim after apparently being unable to sleep the night before.

Speaking after the case, Joe Lillis, chairman of the County Clare Agricultural Show Society, stated: “We are delighted with the outcome.”

Solicitor for the show society, Conor O’Neill, stated: “Over the last 10 [or] 15 years, judges would be very reluctant to make a cost order against a plaintiff [claimant], but it is happening more and more often now and it is to drive out claims like this which are flawed.”