Gahan v Engineering Products Ltd

JurisdictionIreland
CourtSupreme Court
Judgment Date08 March 1971
Docket Number[1967. No. 2585 P.]
Date08 March 1971

Supreme Court

[1967. No. 2585 P.]
Gahan v. Engineering Products Ltd.
WILLIAM GAHAN
Plaintiff
and
ENGINEERING PRODUCTS LIMITED
Defendants.

Negligence - Evidence - Inference from facts established - Injury to eye - Cause of accident not known precisely - Partial loss of eyesight - Damages - Appeal - Damages re-assessed by Supreme Court - Courts of Justice Act, 1924 (No.10 of 1924), s. 96.

Appeal from the High Court.

The plaintiff was an employee of the defendants who manufactured steel tanks. On the 27th August, 1967, the plaintiff's left eye was struck by a small particle of matter when he was leaning over a wheelbarrow which he was about to move to a dump. The plaintiff was 20 years old at that date. At the trial of the plaintiff's action before Henchy J. and a jury on the 3rd, 4th and 5th February, 1970, the jury found that the plaintiff had been hit by a flying fragment of matter, that the defendants had been negligent in failing to equip the plaintiff with protective goggles, and that the plaintiff had also been negligent. The jury apportioned 90% of the fault to the defendants and 10% of the fault to the plaintiff, and they assessed damages at £4,763. Judgment for £4,286 14s. 0d. and costs was entered for the plaintiff.

Section 96 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924, provides as follows:—

"96.—Every appeal from a judgment of the High Court or the Circuit Court in an action tried by a judge and jury, or from any other judgment of the High Court or the Circuit Court founded on the verdict of a jury in a civil case, shall be made by way of motion before the appellate tribunal for a new trial . . . In any appeal to which this section applies the appellate tribunal may, in lieu of ordering a new trial, set aside the verdict, findings, and judgment appealed against and enter such judgment as the court considers proper."

The plaintiff's left eye was injured in an accident which occurred during the course of his employment with the defendants and, as a result of the injury, his ability to see with that eye was impaired. At the trial of the plaintiff's action in the High Court the jury found that his injury had been caused by a flying fragment of matter. The precise source of the fragment was not proved although it was established that welding work was being performed in the vicinity of the plaintiff at the time of the accident. The jury found that the defendants had been negligent in failing to equip the plaintiff with protective goggles. The jury assessed general damages at £1,200 for the plaintiff's pain and suffering until the date of the trial and at £3,200 for his future pain and suffering. At the hearing of an appeal by the defendants they submitted (a)that there had not been sufficient evidence of the source of the fragment to support a finding that they had been negligent and (b) that the general damages awarded by the jury were excessive as there had not been a total loss of sight from the injured eye.

Held by the Supreme Court ( Ó Dálaigh ó dálaigh C.J., Walsh and McLoughlin JJ.), in allowing the appeal in part, 1, that the jury's finding that the defendants had been negligent would not be set aside since the evidence at the trial established facts from which negligence on the part of the defendants might be inferred reasonably.

Jones v. Great Western Railway Co.UNK 47 T.L.R. 39 considered.

2. That the award of £3,200 for the plaintiff's future pain and suffering was excessive and that the Court, instead of directing a new trial on the issue of damages, would exercise its power to re-assess that part of the damages and would substitute the sum of £2,000 for the sum of £3,200.

Cur. adv. vult.

ÓDálaigh ó dálaigh C.J.:—

This appeal is brought by the defendants against the verdict of a jury in the plaintiff's favour and the presiding judge's judgment on foot thereof for £4,286 14s. 0d. against the defendants.

The jury apportioned 90% of the fault to the defendants and 10% to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff received an injury in the left eye on the 28th August, 1967, when he was working as a labourer in the...

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9 cases
  • McDonagh v Sunday Newspapers Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 27 July 2017
    ...by the original jury, the apparent unfairness of such a move was simply a litigation consequence. Gahan v. Engineering Products Ltd. [1971] I.R. 30, Barrett v. Independent Newspapers Ltd.[1986] I.R. 13, Holohan v. Donohoe[1986] I.R. 45, Dawson v. Irish Brokers Association(Unreported, Suprem......
  • Leech v Independent Newspaper (Ireland) Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 19 December 2014
    ...Supreme Court, 1st July, 1993). Foley v. Thermocement Products Ltd.DLTR (1956) 90 I.L.T.R. 92. Gahan v. Engineering Products Ltd.IR [1971] I.R. 30. Hay v. O'GradyIR [1992] 1 I.R. 210; [1992] I.L.R.M. 689. Heaney v. IrelandIR [1994] 3 I.R. 593; [1994] 2 I.L.R.M. 420. Holohan v. DonohoeIR [19......
  • Dunne (an Infant) v National Maternity Hospital
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 14 April 1989
    ...[1983] I.R. 141; [1984] I.L.R.M. 197. Cooke v. WalshIRDLRM [1984] I.R. 710; [1984] I.L.R.M. 208. Gahan v. Engineering Products Ltd.IR [1971] I.R. 30. O'Rourke v. McGuinnessIR [1942] I.R. 554. Holohan v. DonohoeIRDLRM [1986] I.R. 45; [1986] I.L.R.M. 250. Whitehouse v. JordanWLRUNK [1981] 1 W......
  • Holohan v Donohoe
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 11 February 1986
    ...of this Court dealing with the Court's power to assess damages rather than direct a new trial is Gahan V.Engineering Products Ltd. 1971 I.R. 30. That was an appeal by the defendants against a finding of negligence against them made by a jury in the High Court and against the amount of the ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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