McArdle v McCaughey Bros Ltd

Judgment Date19 December 1968
Date19 December 1968
Docket Number[1967. No. 717 P.]
CourtSupreme Court

Supreme Court.

[1967. No. 717 P.]
McArdle v. McCaughey Bros. Ltd.

Negligence - Injuries - Loss of eye - Stroke - Damages - Short expectancy of life - Jury - Award - Damages - Distinct award for each portion of loss.

Appeal from the High Court,

The plaintiff's action was tried before Mr. Justice Henchy and a jury on the 4th July, 1967.

The facts have been summarised in the head-note and appear in the judgments, post.

The plaintiff, a semi-skilled building worker aged 58 years, had an accident which was caused by the negligence of the defendants and his left eye had to be removed. At the time of that accident the plaintiff suffered from high blood pressure and had a life expectancy of 7 or 8 years. Shortly after the accident he suffered a stroke which rendered him unfit for any work and reduced his expectation of life to 2 years. The plaintiff claimed damages in the High Court from the defendants for their negligence and at the hearing of the action, which was tried before a judge and jury, the sole issue was the amount of damages which depended upon whether or not the stroke was caused by the accident. The trial judge divided the issue of the amount of damages into four parts on the issue paper, namely, (a) special damages to date of trial; (b) amount of the plaintiff's loss of earnings after the date of trial; (c) damages for the plaintiff's pain and suffering and less of enjoyment of life to date of trial; and (d) such damages after date of trial. The jury's award, amounting to £2,689 9s. 6d., was set out in their four answers, namely, (a) £519 9s. 6d.; (b) £1,170 0s. 0d.; (c) £500 and (d) £500.

The plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court on the ground of the inadequacy of the damages so awarded to him.

Held by the Supreme Court ( Ó Dálaigh ó dálaigh C.J., Haugh, Walsh, Budd and FitzGerald JJ.), allowing the appeal, 1, that it was clear from the jury's first answer, on the amount of special damages, that they had found that the plaintiff's stroke had been caused by the accident which resulted in the loss of his eye.

2. That the award of only £500 by the jury's third answer, in respect of the plaintiff's pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life to the date of trial, was entirely inadequate in view of the double injury suffered by the plaintiff and that there should be a new trial.

Per Walsh J.:—"Lastly, I would like to take this opportunity to express unqualified approval of the learned trial judge's course in breaking down the issue of damages into the four separate questions already mentioned. This was most helpful in enabling one to read the jury's mind upon the various issues of fact which arose for decision in the computation of the damages in question and it is, indeed, a practice to be commended in all claims for damages for personal injury save, perhaps, in the most simple and uncomplicated cases."

Cur. adv. vult.

ÓDálaigh ó dálaigh C.J.:—

This is an appeal by the plaintiff against a jury's award of damages on the ground of inadequacy. The plaintiff, who described himself as a precast worker, was injured in the course of his employment on 19th September, 1966. He was struck in the left eye while unloading scaffolding and his eye was seriously damaged, He was taken to the Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin, and five days later, on the 24th September, 1966, his eye had to be removed. He was discharged on 9th October, 1966, and some weeks later an artificial eye was fitted. The plaintiff was 581/2 years old at the date of the accident.

On the 5th November, 1966, while walking in the street, he collapsed due to a cerebral haemorrhage. On this occasion he was taken to the Louth County Hospital where he was detained as a patient until 17th December, 1966. He lost his memory for a week as a result of the cardiac attack and his left side was paralysed. On discharge he could walk, his arm was still stiff and his leg, as he said, was not too bad. The plaintiff had to return to hospital for five days in June, 1967, because of his heart condition.

The trial took place on 4th July, 1967, before Mr. Justice Henchy and a jury. The trial judge divided the question of damages into four parts which, with the jury's answers, were as follows:—

(1) Loss of earnings and medical expenses to date

Answer £519 9 6

(2) Loss of earnings in future

Answer £1170 0 0

(3) Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life to date

Answer £500 0 0

(4) Pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life for the future

Answer £500 0 0
Total £2689 9 6

After deduction of £145 for workmen's compensation, judgment was given for a net sum of £2,544 9s. 6d. The defendants had lodged a sum of £2,571 with their defence and judgment was therefore entered for the defendants with costs from the date of lodgment.

Before the accident and unknown to himself, the plaintiff was suffering from high blood-pressure and his expectation of life was then 61/2 to 71/2 years. The effect of the cerebral haemorrhage was to reduce his expectation of life to 2 years at most. The attacks are likely to recur and he will require constant medical supervision. Moreover, he...

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4 cases
  • Carroll v Clare County Council
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 18 December 1975
    ...the injury to the date of the trial and (ii) the relevant future period commencing at the date of the assessment. McArdle v. McCaugheyIR [1968] I.R. 47 and O'Learyv. O'ConnellIR [1968] I.R. 149 considered. 5. That the general damages awarded by the jury were excessive and should be reduced ......
  • O'Leary v O'Connell
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 5 March 1968
  • Howell v O'Regan
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 14 May 1970
    ...attributable to the accident. Following the view expressed in this Court in the judgment in McArdle v. McCaughey Brothers Limited (1968) I.R. 47 and also expressed on other occasions in this Court this desirable practice has been adopted frequently in claims of this nature coming for trial ......
  • Gahan v Engineering Products Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Supreme Court
    • 8 March 1971
    ...I agree. McLoughlin J.:— I also agree. 1 [1952] 1 All E.R. 1013. 2 (1958) 92 I.L.T.R. 1. 3 (1930) 47 T.L.R. 39. 4 [1967] 1 W.L.R. 1497. 5 [1968] I.R. 47. 6 [1966] I.R. 7 (1930) 47 T.L.R. 39, 41. 8 See p. 31, ante. ...

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