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Bad trip Meet Ireland’s 'unluckiest family' who sued Tipperary County Council after six falls over three years

An actuary assessed that there “was a 1 in 26 million chance of so many members of the same family being entitled to compensation for injury as a result of a trip and fall in such a short period of time."

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Kelly Hannon

Kelly Hannon

Sarah Hannon.

Sarah Hannon.

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Kelly Hannon

This is one of Ireland’s "unluckiest" families — six of whom sued Tipperary County Council after tripping and injuring themselves in Tipperary town over a three-year-period from 2013 to 2016.

This was the misfortune suffered by Geraldine Hannon, her daughters Kelly, Keisha and Sarah Hannon and their brothers John and Billy Price.

An actuary later assessed, in relation to four of the family members’ accidents occurring in a 10-month period, that there “was a 1 in 26 million chance of so many members of the same family being entitled to compensation for injury as a result of a trip and fall in such a short period of time."

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Geraldine Hannon.

Geraldine Hannon.

Geraldine Hannon.

Adjusting the statistics for a higher probability of injury arising from an increased frequency of such trips and falls, the actuary estimated the chances of this occurring to four people in the same family within the 10-month-period at one in 666,000.

Details of the Hannons’ difficulties in staying upright emerged this week in a High Court judgement handed down by Mr Justice Michael Twomey as he rejected the appeals of Sarah and Kelly Hannon against the Circuit Court’s dismissal of their claims for damages.

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Sarah Hannon.

Sarah Hannon.

Sarah Hannon.

A summary of the family’s trips and falls, included in the judgment, read:

  • 21st February 2013: John Price (Kelly and Sarah’s brother) made a claim for a trip and fall in Tipperary town;
  • 17th August 2015: Ms Kelly Hannon’s trip and fall took place in Greenane Drive;
  • 12th October 2015: Her brother Billy Price made a claim for a trip and fall in Tipperary town;
  • 27th September 2015: Mother Geraldine Hannon made a trip and fall claim on a pothole in the vicinity of the Greenane estate.
  • 13th April 2016: Sister Keisha Hannon made a trip and fall claim on a pothole in the vicinity of the Greenane estate:
  • 29th May 2016: Sarah Hannon made a trip and fall claim on a shore in the Greenane estate, which claim has been heard as part of these proceedings.

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Keisha Hannon.

Keisha Hannon.

Keisha Hannon.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Twomey noted: “While this court should never of course eliminate the possibility that the Hannons are a very unlucky family, it is the case that a one in 26 million chance or even a one in 666,000 chance of four separate trip and falls from four members of the same family in a 10-month period, leading to injury, raises the distinct possibility, to say the least, that some of these claims are not legally sustainable”.

He dismissed both appeals before ordering costs against the sisters.

But he continued: “As both plaintiffs do not appear to be a mark for damages, it may well be that Tipperary County Council/ the taxpayer will end up having to pay its own legal costs even though it has won the litigation.”

When the Sunday World called to the home of Sarah Hannon this week to ask her about the publicity arising from Mr Justice Twomey’s judgment, her partner Nick told our reporter she was very upset about the coverage.

Sarah Hannon’s claim had been that she tripped and injured herself on an open shore (or drain) while running after her two-year-old child, leading to soft tissue injuries to her finger and injuries to her back.

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Describing Sarah Hannon, Mr Justice Twomey said “she is not a reliable witness”.

He said she had been previously involved in a car accident and sustained a back injury but when examined by doctors for the defendants, she “gave false evidence since she claimed to have had no past history of any back complaints."

The court, he said, concluded her evidence in this and other respects has become “unwittingly adjusted to support her claim for compensation."

But, said her partner Nick, the judgement had been “unfair” and the coverage of it had resulted in Sarah being embarrassed to show her face outside her home.

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Nick Chorosilov, partner of Sarah Hannon, shows the drain she fell over

Nick Chorosilov, partner of Sarah Hannon, shows the drain she fell over

Nick Chorosilov, partner of Sarah Hannon, shows the drain she fell over

Sarah, he said, was unavailable to speak with our reporter as she was out shopping with her sisters when we called.

“She feels very upset about it,” Nick said.

“I don’t think it was fair the way it was put … in my opinion.

“It’s embarrassing to show her face outside – whoever read(s) it, they only see that one side.”

Nick then offered to ring Sarah before returning a short time later and saying she did not want to speak with us.

“I don’t think she wants to talk,” he said.

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Nick Chorosilov, partner of Sarah Hannon, shows our man Patrick the offending shore.

Nick Chorosilov, partner of Sarah Hannon, shows our man Patrick the offending shore.

Nick Chorosilov, partner of Sarah Hannon, shows our man Patrick the offending shore.

“She’s gone with Kelly and another sister for shopping. But she didn’t want to talk.”

Nick then showed our man the drain where Sarah had tripped.

“The cover is only there the last six months,” he said.

“It was open for years. A car is usually parked over it, but kids were falling there as well.

“A small girl fell on it last summer. There is a few of these but this one was always open – kids would pull it (the cover) out and it would not be replaced for years.”

Nick said the Sunday World would similarly be unable to contact Kelly Hannon as she was on the shopping trip with Sarah.

Kelly Hannon’s claim was that she too had tripped on a shore in the estate which didn’t have a cover.

Noting the location of the shore in question, between the exterior of the path and the road, Mr Justice Twomey said “for Ms Kelly Hannon to have caught her right foot in the shore … she would have to have been walking … with her left foot on the road and her right foot on the footpath, a most unusual way in which to walk”.

He further noted she “stated she was not looking in front of her as she walked as she was talking to her sister.”

He continued: “If a person falls, as a result of not looking where they are going or not taking reasonable care for their own safety, they have only themselves to blame and not the local authority or some other defendant.”

He further described Kelly Hannon as “not a very credible witness” citing inconsistencies in her evidence as well as the fact she had told Tipperary County Council’s doctor she had no past history of similar injuries” and “denied any involvement in any other accident.”

He said her evidence in court, however, was that “she had a problem with her back arising from a road traffic accident in 2008 for which she had received compensation.”

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