By Ann O'Loughlin
A man who suffered multiple severe injuries when a tree fell on him in stormy weather has settled his High Court action for €165,000.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said John Haskins Jr was lucky he survived the accident four years ago.
The 37-year-old man sustained fractures to the spine, ribs and ankle and was in hospital for two months afterwards.
John Haskins Jnr from Athy, Co Kildare had through his father John Haskins Snr sued Camphill Communities of Ireland - the owner of a health care facility at Dunshane House, Brannmockstown, Naas, Co Kildare - as a result of the accident on February 12, 2014.
Mr Haskins who has Aspergers Syndrome was at the time an in-patient of the healthcare facility. He was returning from a compost heap in the garden when the accident occurred.
It was claimed a mature beech tree was allowed to become or remain a danger and a trap to people in the vicinity as it was allegedly diseased. It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to maintain, repair or remove the mature beech tree or take measures as were reasonably necessary to make the tree safe, when they knew or ought to have known it was in a dangerous condition and was liable to cause injury to people in the vicinity, particularly Mr Haskins.
It was further alleged there was a failure to take any adequate or effective measures to fence off or secure the area. It was also claimed there was an alleged failure to fell the tree.
The claims were denied and it was contended the tree was alive and had the outward appearance of a healthy tree.
It was further contended the crown of the tree and the majority of the lower stem of the tree appeared outwardly live and intact. There was decay in the tree roots Camphill said which could not have been detected by anyone other than a trained arboriculturist. Camphill said it did not know and could not have known at the material time there was decay in the tree roots.
Hugh Mohan SC for Mr Haskins said an expert report for his side concluded there was a decay fungus in the tree and it had caused rot to the roots which resulted in the wood becoming degraded and subject to fracture.
An expert for the other side submitted the entire tree and roof plate were overturned and because of the particular storm at the time any prudent landowner, having for example inspected the tree a week before, could not have predicted this type of scenario.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Cross said Mr Haskins has suffered significant injuries and had made a fantastic recovery.