McDonagh -v- Dent & anor, [2019] IEHC 92 (2019)

Docket Number:2018 85 CA
Party Name:McDonagh, Dent & anor
 
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THE HIGH COURT

CIRCUIT APPEAL[2018 No. 00085 C.A.]

BETWEEN

DESMOND MCDONAGHPLAINTIFFAND

JAMES DOMINICK DENT

AND

SFT TRANSPORT LIMITEDDEFENDANTS

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Twomey delivered on the 21st day of February, 2019

SUMMARY

  1. This is a Circuit Court appeal, involving a claim by the plaintiff/appellant (“Mr. McDonagh”) of Headford Road, Galway, that he suffered personal injuries when an articulated truck driven by the defendant/respondent (“Mr. Dent”) allegedly reversed into his car, when Mr. McDonagh was stationery. The incident occurred on 9th November, 2013 while Mr. Dent was in the process of making deliveries in the service area at the back of Galway Shopping Centre on the Headford Road.

    Complete conflict of witness evidence

  2. There is a complete conflict of evidence between Mr. McDonagh and Mr. Dent as to how the accident occurred. Mr. McDonagh states that his car was stationery and that the truck reversed into him. Mr. Dent alleges that his truck was stationery and that Mr McDonagh’s car drove by him causing the damage to the car.

    Complete conflict of expert opinion

  3. As well as the conflict of evidence between the eye witnesses to the accident, there is also a complete conflict of evidence between the expert witnesses. The car assessor expert for Mr. McDonagh opined that the damage to Mr. McDonagh’s car was such that it was clearly done by the reversing action of the truck in a swinging motion making contact with the middle of the stationery car first and moving towards the front of the car as it reversed. Mr. McDonagh’s expert did not countenance the accident happening in any other way. This is in conflict with the opinion of the car assessor expert for Mr. Dent that the damage to the car was clearly done by the car driving against the stationery truck, as the damage was inflicted from the front of the car towards the back of the car as the car moved against the truck as it attempted to pass through a narrow gap. Mr. Dent’s expert did not countenance the accident happening in any other way.

  4. The comments of Irvine J. in Byrne v. Ardenheath [2017] IECA 293 regarding the value of expert evidence seem particularly relevant to this case. Irvine J. stressed the importance of this Court exercising caution in dealing with expert evidence from experts who are retained by the parties to litigation, particularly since their views will be informed by the facts which are provided to them by the party that is retaining them.

  5. At para. 31 of Byrne v. Ardenheath, Irvine J. stated:

    “It was my experience as a trial judge that the effectiveness of the assistance offered by expert witnesses in almost all disciplines, whether that evidence was in respect of the standard of care proposed or a party’s compliance therewith, was frequently compromised by the fact that, all too often, their opinions all too often appeared to correspond too favourably with the interests of the parties who retained them. I continue to remain of that view as an appellate court judge where the transcript may lead one to the conclusion that a given expert had become so engrossed in their client’s position that they were clearly incapable of providing truly independent guidance for trial judge.”

  6. This is a case where the opinions of both experts both manage to ‘correspond favourably with...

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