Whelan v Castle Leslie Equestrian Holidays Ltd

JudgeMr. Justice Barr
Judgment Date13 March 2018
Neutral Citation[2018] IEHC 125
Docket Number[2017 No. 5848 P]
CourtHigh Court
Date13 March 2018

[2018] IEHC 125


Barr J.

[2017 No. 5848 P]


Tort – Accident – Personal injury – Damages & restitution – Finding of facts – Special damages – General damages

Facts: The plaintiff claimed damages for the injuries she had suffered from an accident while participating in a horse-riding exercise on the premises of the defendant's hotel. The plaintiff contended that she had suffered severe pain and swelling in her lower-back area and left buttock. The plaintiff also showed the evidence of medical examination to prove that the plaintiff would be in discomfort for a prolonged period of time and she suffered serious cosmetic blemishes with which she had to live for the rest of her life. The plaintiff also contended that she was undergoing IVF treatment at the time of accident that had to be postponed due to the injuries sustained in the accident.

Mr. Justice Barr awarded the plaintiff a sum for pain and sufferings together with general damages for pain and suffering and in respect of cosmetic aspects of her injuries into the future and held that the sum must be added with the agreed sum for special damages in favour of the plaintiff. The Court found that the plaintiff had to postpone the IVF treatment due to the injuries sustained in the accident that would have caused frustration and disappointment during that period to the plaintiff. The Court also noted that the plaintiff had been left with serious cosmetic blemishes, which would remain with her for the rest of her life.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Barr delivered on the 13th day of March, 2018

This action arises out of an accident which occurred on 13th February, 2016 when the plaintiff was attending at the defendant's hotel premises and participating in a horse riding exercise. In the course of such exercise, she was caused to be thrown from a horse when it became startled by the arrival of a dog onto the path on which it was travelling. The horse reared up causing the plaintiff to be thrown to the ground. Liability for the accident is not in issue in these proceedings.


The plaintiff is 45 years of age having been born on 31st March, 1972. At the time of the accident, she and her husband had been undergoing IVF treatment. She had had six courses of treatment and had gone with her husband to the defendant's hotel for a short break before starting the seventh course of treatment.


Immediately after falling to the ground, the plaintiff was knocked unconscious for a short period. She was taken to the office in the hotel, where she was attended to. On the following day, she attended at the Emergency Department at the Hermitage Medical Clinic in Dublin. She complained of pain in her neck and lower back. She had a left buttock hematoma. She was advised to rest and then to actively mobilise as her symptoms permitted. She was advised to take Panadol.


X-rays had revealed that there was no bony injury to the neck or back. She then attended with her gynaecologist for a scheduled appointment. He was apparently very concerned when he saw the extent of the bruising to the plaintiff's lower back. He advised her go to the A&E Department. The plaintiff then went to Tallaght Hospital, where further X-rays were taken, which again revealed no fractures. By this time, the plaintiff had pain in her lower back area and all around the left buttock. She had extensive bruising and swelling in the left buttock and back area. The court has been provided with a number of photographs taken by the plaintiff of her left buttock area in the days and weeks after the accident.


The plaintiff re-attended the Emergency Department at the Hermitage Clinic on 21st February, 2016, where she was found to have a large swelling over the left buttock and was tender over the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints. MRI evaluation showed no bony injury, but did confirm a large haematoma over the left buttock. On 23rd February, 2016, the plaintiff was seen by Dr. David Foley, a consultant in emergency medicine at the Hermitage Clinic, who assured her that they would keep an eye on the haematoma and that hopefully it would settle down over the following six to eight weeks. The plaintiff re-attended at the clinic on the same day, as she was worried about a blister over the site of the buttock haematoma. Dr. Foley was concerned about the possibility of infection and accordingly placed the plaintiff on an antibiotic. She was next reviewed on 29th February, 2016, when the blister was still present and the buttock abscess had not changed in size.


The plaintiff was referred by her G.P. to Mr. Fergal McGoldrick, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, on 11th March, 2016. He noted that there was a large resolving subcutaneous swelling tracking from the left mid-lumbosacral junction across to her left iliac buttock area. There was an area of ulceration with necrotic skin, centred over her proximal buttock posterior lower iliac crest. It measured 2 × 1cm. He referred the plaintiff on for evaluation by Mr. David O'Donovan, consultant plastic surgeon.


Mr. O'Donovan first saw the plaintiff on 14th March 2016. There was a 2cm × 3cm area of superficial skin necrosis on the upper lateral aspect of her left buttock and underlying large fluctuant haematoma extending for at least an area of 15cm across the entire upper left buttock. The plaintiff was in a lot of discomfort, especially while trying to sit down. Mr. O'Donovan drained the haematoma and removed 270mls of old blood. The plaintiff returned on 1st April, 2016, when the swelling had significantly reduced in her buttock. Mr. O'Donovan again aspirated 125mls of liquid which was purely serous looking. The blistered area had formed a surface eschar for which gel dressings were prescribed.


On 15th April, 2016, Mr. O'Donovan performed a further drainage of serous fluid from the left buttock that had now reduced to 55mls in total. The eschar had lifted from the upper lateral buttock wound showing a clean healing granulating bed underneath for which he recommended continued conservative management. When the plaintiff returned to see him on 29th April, 2016, he could no longer palpate any fluid collection that required drainage. The surface buttock wound had reduced in size to a raw area measuring 1cm × 1.5cm in total. The plaintiff was managing that with a simple dry dressing.


The plaintiff was seen for final review on 27th June, 2016, at which time the left buttock wound had completely healed and the buttock swelling had almost complexly resolved with no evidence of any further seroma collection that required treatment. The plaintiff was discharged from his care at that time.


The plaintiff was reviewed for medico-legal purposes by Mr. O'Donovan on 16th January, 2018. At that time, she complained of intermittent stinging pain in the left buttock area, which was uncomfortable when sitting. She had intermittent ‘pins and needles’ sensation going from the left...

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1 cases
  • Kampff v Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform
    • Ireland
    • High Court
    • June 25, 2018
    ...cases, see Wilders v. MIBI [2018] IEHC 126 at para 15; Flannery v. HSE [2018] IEHC 127 at para 35; Whelan v. Castle Leslie [2018] IEHC 125 at para 22. 65 Since the Court of Appeal judgments in Nolan v. Wirenski, Shannon v. O'Sullivan and Fogarty v. Cox involved a reduction by the Court o......

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