Former Wicklow football championship winner awarded €51k for stumbling over hole on path

A man who suffered a wrenching knee injury when he stumbled on a city path after his foot caught on a small hole has been awarded more than €51,000 by the High Court.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr said part of the surround around a manhole cover became broken away creating a substantial danger on the footpath.

Mr Richard Dignam (aged 40) who represented Ireland in Australian Rules football and won senior county championships with his hometown club of Rathnew, Co Wicklow, had gone to a hardware shop for an item for his work as a french polisher and was returning to the Shelbourne Hotel where he was involved in the refurbishment when the accident happened in the Pembroke Street area on July 29, 2014.

Mr Dignam was going in the direction of St Stephen's Green when his right foot went into a hole beside a cover over a manhole.

He had sued Eircom Ltd, the utility company responsible for the chamber and cover, and Dublin City Council as the roads authority for the area.

Mr Justice Barr said the cover over the chamber had originally been placed in situ by the Department of Post and Telegraphs (P&T). At the time of the accident, the judge said there were two covers laid end-to-end which covered a single chamber and the hole was at one side.

Mr Dignam had taken photographs of the path and cover after the accident and the judge said it was clear the portion of the surround immediately adjacent to the frame of the P&T cover had broken away exposing a hole in the public footpath.

The photographs also showed the hole had been caused when the concrete mix which surrounded the P&T cover had cracked and ultimately broken away.

Mt Justice Barr said he accepted the evidence the concrete mix which was used to fill in the gap between the frame for the chamber cover and the surrounding paving slabs was clearly inadequate and, as a result, it became cracked.

Given that it was a relatively small hole, the judge said he did not think there was any negligence on the part of Mr Dignam in failing to observe it.

Mr Justice Barr ruled liability for the accident must rest with Eircom and he dismissed the case against Dublin City Council.

Mr Dignam later had surgery but the judge said all the accident did was to bring forward the necessity for such treatment by about 15 years and he would have had to have the surgery anyway due to wear and tear on his knee caused by his sporting career.

He awarded a total of €51,936 against Eircom.

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