A 14-year-old schoolboy, who lacerated his leg on a broken bottle while playing football in “knee-high” grass on a common area near his home, has lost a €38,000 personal injury claim against a housing association.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane said in the Circuit Civil Court that if the grass was as long as described to the court by the boy’s parents she wondered how children could even see a football in it.
Owen Jones, through his mother Simone Jones, sued housing agency Respond, of Airmount, Dominick Place, Waterford. Ms Jones, of Ard Mor Court, Tallaght, Dublin, told Judge Linnane that in September 2010 her son had fallen on a broken bottle concealed in the grass.
“If the grass had been kept cut the bottle would have been visible. It was the cause of my son’s injury,” she told barrister Paul Fogarty, counsel for Respond and Zurich Insurance.
Ms Jones said she had taken Owen to hospital where he had received several stitches in his left knee.
Owen’s father, Paul Jones, said the grass “was never really cut and was completely out of control”.
Mr Fogarty, who appeared with Collins Crowley Solicitors, told the court there was difficulty with vandalism and cider parties were commonplace in the area.
Christopher Deegan, maintenance officer with Respond, said Ard More was a very troublesome, problematic estate where there was a lot of antisocial behaviour, cider parties. and illegal dumping. It was a very difficult place to work in.
He told Mr Fogarty that when he saw the amount Respond was spending on vandalism he had brought it to the attention of his financial director and a meeting had been held with the resident.
Mr Deegan said there was a high degree of residents in arrears of rent and they had been told it was difficult, in such circumstances, to bring vandalism under control.
The grass was cut regularly by a contractor who was hired by Respond to be responsible for everything regarding maintenance. The estate was swept and cleaned every week. He had never seen “knee-high” grass in the estate.
Judge Linnane said the Ard Mor Estate had serious problems of vandalism, cider parties, and antisocial behaviour with a lot of residents not paying their rent.
She said the Housing Association was dependant on rental income in order to deal with matters and they had kept a maintenance system in place and dealt with the situation to the best of its ability She found that Respond had no case to answer in liability and dismissed Owen’s claim.
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