A girl who broke her two upper front teeth during a ride on the bumpers has been awarded more than €36,000.
James Hudson, of Hudsons Funfair, Brockagh Rd, Roberstown, Co Kildare, had contested the claim. The company no longer operates.
Ciara McGillycuddy, a minor, sued for personal injury through her mother Ann McGillycuddy, both of Kilnabrack, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry.
Her barrister, Katie O’Connell, outlined how on September 2, 2011, Hudsons Funfair was operating in Glenbeigh during the annual Glenbeigh races. Ciara, who was aged 11 at the time, “stepped in and realised the safety belt had been cut in two. The cars moved off before she had a chance to alert anyone,” Ms O’Connell said.
If the seatbelt had been working she would not have been injured, the barrister said.
Her friend’s belt was working. She was the driver. Ms McGillycuddy’s phone fell and she reached for it but the car was hit from the back by another dodgem.
“My head went forward and my lip was cut. There was blood gushing from my mouth.” Some parts of her teeth fell out.
She needed ongoing dental treatment, including crowns, and already had to undergo root-canal treatment to save the teeth. She was unable to chew properly or speak properly for some time, and had suffered embarrassment, Ms O’Connell told the court.
Cross-examined by Tom Rice, counsel for the defendant, Ms McGillycuddy denied taking the seatbelt off herself to reach for her phone, which Mr Rice said had been thrown by someone else into the car.
Alice Hudson, the operator that night, said the company had visited Kerry for more than 30 years. A loudspeaker system and signs warned of the need for safety belts and a ticket collector checked the passengers.
Ms Hudson said she saw a phone flying through the air and believed the child took the safety belt off herself to reach for the phone. At the time, no one made any allegation about the safety belt and the child had said someone had fired her phone.
Judge Terence O’Sullivan said it was possible the child took off the seat belt herself but this should have been visible to Ms Hudson.
On the balance of probability, he believed the seatbelt was not functioning and awarded €16,300 in specials, including €15,000 for future dental treatment, as well as €20,000 in general damages, bringing it to €36,300. He also agreed to Ms O’Connell’s application for costs.
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