A shop assistant who was hit on the back of his head with a drinks can and stabbed in the hand with a syringe during an attempted robbery has settled a High Court action for €725,000.
Jahan Zaib Butt was involved in a struggle with the intruder, who stabbed his left hand with a needle that he threatened was contaminated with hepatitis C. Mr Butt still had the syringe embedded in his hand when he was admitted to nearby St James’s Hospital.
Shane English, for Mr Butt, told the High Court today that the shop assistant at the Spar shop, Chandlers Guild, of James St, Dublin, had a seizure at the scene and was rushed to hospital.
The High Court heard liability was at issue in the case and it was described by counsel as "a seriously contentious case".
Spar had claimed there was contributory negligence on the part of the shop assistant, who, it alleged, engaged with the attempted robber in circumstances beyond the reasonable scope of his employment.
Mr Butt, aged 40, of The Coombe, Dublin, had, through his long-term partner Mobeen Butt, sued LCG&R Retail Ltd, with offices at Lower Leeson St, Dublin, and trading as Spar over the incident in the James St shop on July 28, 2012, just before 10pm, when he was assaulted during an attempted robbery.
He claimed there was an alleged failure to provide him with a safe place of work and he alleged he and his fellow employees were allegedly actively encouraged to engage with shoplifters and protect the stock and money.
Spar denied all the claims and contended Mr Butt allegedly failed to comply with his training and instruction and failed to allow the robber to leave the premises when he had managed to exit but allegedly engaged with the intruder in circumstances when he ought not to have done so. It was also alleged he acted in disregard for his own safety and wellbeing.
In the High Court, counsel told Mr Justice Kevin Cross the settlement was 50% of the full value of the case and there were significant issues in relation to liability and causation. A key issue in the case is where it was contended on the Spar side that Mr Butt may have a psychiatric injury rather than a brain injury.
Counsel said Mr Butt had a seizure-like episode at the scene and was on a ventilator for six days in hospital. Mr Butt was in hospital a total of 17 days and, a few weeks later, was readmitted with chest pain.
Counsel said Mr Butt seemed to be cognitively impaired and appears non-communicative and has not spoken in English since the incident, though he had been fluent and had lived in Ireland since 2002. Counsel said Mr Butt communicates with his family in Pakistan-speaking Urdu.
He said since 2016 there had been a slight improvement in Mr Butt’s condition, but he had not worked since the incident.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross noted the difficulties with liability and causation in the case and said the Spar side discounted brain damage and contended there was no known pattern of a deficit which Mr Butt fits. The judge said the settlement was a very good one.