"contributory negligence" | 

Former prisoner who cut buttock on defective bunk bed awarded €40,000

Barrister Andrew J King, counsel for Doyle, said during an outline of the case that his client had got up in the night to use the toilet bowl at the bottom of his bed and as he scrambled out of his top bunk caught his buttock on a jagged piece of metal.

Stephen Doyle

Ray ManaghIndependent.ie

A former prisoner in Mountjoy, who lacerated his right buttock on a defective bunk bed while going to the loo in the middle of the night, was today awarded €40,000 damages against the Minister for Justice.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan said Stephen Doyle had weeks earlier scratched his hand on the jagged remains of a safety bar on his top bunk and held him one fifth responsible for his hip injury on the basis of contributory negligence, reducing the award to €32,000.

Doyle, a 34-year-old tree surgeon of Drumheath Drive, Ladyswell, Mulhuddart, Dublin, told the Circuit Civil Court that in December 2011 he was sharing Cell 2 in Block A3 of Mountjoy Prison with his brother, Andy Doyle, when the accident occurred. The court was not told why the brothers were in prison at the time.

Barrister Andrew J King, counsel for Doyle, said during an outline of the case that his client had got up in the night to use the toilet bowl at the bottom of his bed and as he scrambled out of his top bunk caught his buttock on a jagged piece of metal.

It was the remains of safety bars which had been removed from the bed prior to Mr Doyle entering prison.

Mr King, who appeared with Mark Killilea Solicitors, told Judge O’Sullivan that his client had bled profusely and was given first aid before being removed to Beaumont Hospital where nine stitches had been inserted in a gash to his right buttock.

“When I returned from the hospital the old double bunk bed had been replaced with a completely new bunk bed,” Doyle told the court.

Mr King said the accident had happened 11 years ago when Doyle was in his early 20s and it was believed the defective bed had been scrapped in the meantime. There were no pictures of the jagged surface that had caused Mr Doyle’s injury.

A senior prison officer said all cells and beds were inspected daily and to his knowledge there had been no complaints about the bed in Doyle’s cell. Inspections also included tests of windows and bars and a search for any item that could be transformed into a weapon.

There had been no inspection of the bed immediately after the accident on the night.

Judge O’Sullivan said he was satisfied the evidence given by Doyle and prison officers was truthful. Doyle had clearly been significantly injured and medical reports of his injury considered his injury to have been consistent with his account of what had happened.

Awarding Doyle damages of €40,000 for personal injury Judge O’Sullivan said that because of his earlier hand injury he ought to have known of a problem with his bed and held him a fifth responsible for his injury. The court was satisfied the bed had subsequently been removed.


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