Court orders mart to pay €75k to farmer 'gored and knelt on' by bull

Mr Justice Ferriter stated that it is important to note that the case is one which predates the recently introduced Personal Injuries Guidelines
Court orders mart to pay €75k to farmer 'gored and knelt on' by bull

Recalling the bull attack in evidence, Mr Malone told the High Court that the young bull “hit me and drove me back into the corner”. File picture

The High Court has ordered an Edenderry mart operator to pay €75,000 in damages to a Co. Offaly cattle farmer after he was attacked and gored by a young bull at the mart.

In the ruling, Mr Justice Cian Ferriter found that from the August 5, 2017, incident at Edenderry mart, farmer Fergus Malone (53) “suffered nasty injuries at the time”.

Mr Justice Ferriter stated that the injuries included five broken ribs and Mr Malone was left with the longer-term damage of an injury to his left shoulder and psychological damage including ongoing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms.

Recalling the bull attack in evidence, Mr Malone told the High Court that the young bull “hit me and drove me back into the corner”.

He said: “And I tried to hit him or I don’t know whether I did hit him or not in self-defence to save my life at that stage but I mustn’t have got a right clatter at him because I would have broke the stick. But he gored me in the corner and knelt on me and destroyed me.” 

Mr Malone sued Edenderry Livestock Mart Ltd for alleged negligence and Mr Justice Ferriter has found in Mr Malone's favour ordering the mart operator to pay the €75,000 in damages to Mr Malone.

In calculating damages, Mr Justice Ferriter said that Mr Malone is entitled to compensation for pain and suffering to date of €45,000 and compensation for pain and suffering into the future is €30,000.

Mr Justice Ferriter stated that it is important to note that the case is one which predates the recently introduced Personal Injuries Guidelines “and I have accordingly assessed damages by reference to the principles applicable prior to the introduction of those guidelines”.

Evidence

The mart operator denied liability in the case and alleged that Mr Malone “was entirely the author of his own misfortune” in that the bull attacked Mr Malone after Mr Malone provoked the bull by hitting him on the head with a stick.

However, Mr Justice Ferriter rejected this and found that on the balance of probabilities that the young bull who attacked Mr Malone did so after becoming spooked following a logjam in the chute at the mart and that he charged Mr Malone as a result of becoming spooked and not as a result of being hit on the head with a stick by Mr Malone.

Mr Malone strongly denied that he was the author of his own misfortune and laid the blame for the accident instead squarely on the mart firm where animals were being funnelled back into a pen in which he was standing at a time when he had been asked by a mart employee to steer bulls out of that pen, resulting in the bull in question becoming “spooked” and charging at Mr Malone.

In evidence, Mr Malone said that in his long life as a farmer, he had never hit an animal the way he was alleged by the mart witnesses to have hit the bull. He said that it would have been very foolhardy of him to hit a young bull on the head in that manner as that would only provoke the animal.

Mr Justice Ferriter stated that he accepted that Mr Malone was an experienced farmer who knew how to handle himself around young bulls and would not and did not hit the young bull other than in self-defence.

Judgment

In the judgment published online, Mr Justice Ferriter found Mr Malone’s evidence to be the most accurate and reliable.

He said: “I do not believe that he hit the bull and thereby provoked the attack as alleged by a number of the defendant’s witnesses. I found the plaintiff to be a wholly credible witness and honest and frank in his evidence and recounting of events as best he remembered them.” 

The judge found that the Edenderry Livestock Mart Ltd was negligent in driving young bulls back into the pen which Mr Malone was driving animals out of at the same time.

Mr Justice Ferriter stated that the the mart operator should rather have closed the gate into the pen after the logjam occurred in the chute, and circled the animals, who were not still in the pen, in the runway area until they had settled with a view to then driving them safely back into the chute.

The High Court found that there was no contributory negligence in the case by Mr Malone. Mr Justice Ferriter stated that Mr Malone entered the holding pen to assist the mart at the request of a mart employee.

The judge said that there was nothing Mr Malone “could have done to avoid the bull charging at him once that bull was driven back into the holding pen. It was not feasible for him to escape or otherwise avoid that attack”.

Mr Malone and his wife both work a farm in the Edenderry area of Offaly and they have both dry stock and milk cattle and also produce hay and silage. Mr Malone and his wife have fostered 15 children over the years and they have one remaining foster child with them who is seven years old and will be with them until he is 18.

The court was told that Mr Malone spent some 10 days in Tullamore Hospital following the incident and it was some three months before he could do any work at all on the farm.

Mr Malone gave evidence that his ability to do any heavy work with his left shoulder has been significantly compromised since the accident and is unable to milk his cattle properly or lift heavy objects. Mr Malone gets help from his wife and from neighbours.

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