Ruling due on teen who lost finger on fence

Judgment will be given today in a case taken by a teenager who had one of his fingers partially cut off while climbing over a fence around a sports ground.

Cork County Council urged the judge to dismiss the action, while the plaintiff’s lawyers claimed the fence was a danger and the cause of the accident.

Mateusz Kacper Kaczynski, of Tannery Gardens, off Redemption Rd, Cork, brought the action against Cork County Council.

The plaintiff, who is now 22, was 17 at the time of the accident on September 11, 2010, at the sports court in the municipal park in Carrigaline, County Cork, where basketball and five-a-side football is played.

Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh said he would deliver his judgment in the case today at the High Court sitting in Cork.

Lorraine O’Sullivan, senior counsel for the local authority, submitted at the end of the evidence yesterday: “It is not a climbing wall. It is in an area where older young people play. It is not a playground.”

The judge asked: “If it is said the fence caused the injury how can it not be said it is safe? Is it not this clear as night follows day it is unsafe?”

Ms O’Sullivan replied: “Just because the accident happened in this way does not mean it is an unsafe fence.” She added that it could not be gainsaid that the plaintiff was injured climbing over the fence but she said she did not know what the plaintiff had done to injure himself.

Seán Lynch, the plaintiff’s senior counsel, said he could not say anything about the suggestion that there was contributory negligence by the plaintiff, who had climbed over a fence even though there were openings at different points in the fencing.

“He suffered a very significant injury,” said Mr Lynch. “One cannot expect a counsel of perfection. Our case was that his ring was caught. If he could tell it [precisely how the accident happened] within a millimetre of what happened, it would be taken with the greatest degree of suspicion.”

During cross-examination of the defendant’s engineer, Joseph O’Sullivan, the judge said there were two aspects of the deterrent effect of fencing design. One related to security and keeping people out. The other related to deterring people from climbing the fence simply as a challenge or a recreation and that this was the kind of deterrent being suggested by the defence in this case.

During the evidence, it was agreed that the fence did not have spikes at the top but that narrow rounded bars protruded 25 mm at the top of the fence.


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