Quigley -v- Complex Tooling & Moulding Ltd,  IESC 44 (2008)
|Party Name:||Quigley, Complex Tooling & Moulding Ltd|
SUPREME COURTAppeal No. 143/2005
MATT QUIGLEYPLAINTIFF / RESPONDENTAND
COMPLEX TOOLING AND MOULDING LIMITEDDEFENDANT / APPELLANT
JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Fennelly delivered the 22nd day of July, 2008
This appeal concerns an award of damages for psychiatric injury (reactive depression) found to have been caused by bullying or harassment in the workplace. In a judgment of 9th March 2005, Lavan J in the High Court found that the plaintiff had "suffered personal injury as a direct consequence of a breach of the defendant's duties as employers to prevent workplace bullying." The learned judge, following a separate judgment on damages, awarded to the plaintiff the sum of 75,000 for general damages together with the sum of 773.94 special damages.
The defendant appeals on two grounds: firstly, that the evidence, though uncontradicted, did not bear out the plaintiffs complaints of bullying; secondly, that there was no sufficient evidence of a causal link between the bullying which the High Court judge found that the plaintiff had been subjected to and the depression his doctor found him to have suffered. The defendant also appeals against the quantum.
In spite of the comparative novelty of the cause of action, the Court has not been asked to decide any principles of law. The parties were ad idem as to the nature of the wrong of harassment or bullying and the standard which should be applied.
The Plaintiff commenced employment with a predecessor company of the defendant at its premises at Kells, County Meath, in or about August 1977. The defendant terminated his employment by dismissing him on or about the 18th October 1999. The defendant, which is no longer in business, carried on the business of assembly of computer parts.
The plaintiff, who lives in Kells, had been employed as a factory operative for more than twenty years before the defendant company took over the business in 1998. The defendant appointed a new American plant manager, Mr. Ron Skinner. Most of the plaintiff's complaints relate to his treatment at the hands of Mr Skinner from 1998 until the termination of his employment on 18th October 1999.
The learned trial judge cited as amounting to uncontradicted evidence the particulars of the harassment alleged by the plaintiff in the statement of claim. His approach was to accept as established the matters particularised as follows:"(a) During the month of July/August in 1998 the Plaintiff was subjected to humiliation at the hands of the Defendant Managing Director, Denis Hampton, following his refusal to accept a voluntary redundancy package which had been offered to him by John Dory, on behalf of the Defendant. During a meeting on the issue, the Plaintiff enquired of John Dory as to what was the reason behind the fact that he was the only member of staff to be offered voluntary redundancy, stating that it was the principle that interested him. John Dory stated "the principle, don't make me laugh", at which Denis Hampton laughed also.
(b) The Defendants its servant or agents made humiliating and demeaning reference to and about the Plaintiff, such as on the 6th of April 1999, when Ron Skinner informed Fidelma Browne, an operative into the Defendant Company, that the Plaintiff and a colleague Seamus Reilly, would be retaining their Grade 11 rate of pay, and stated "don't worry, I'll sort out the granddads". On another occasion, after the Plaintiff had through exasperation resulting from the bullying and...
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