Van driver claims gust of wind carried him 12 feet while delivering mattress; sues for €400,000

Declan Homan leaving the Four Courts today. Picture: Collins

By Ann O'Loughlin

A van driver who claimed he hurt his back when a mattress he was delivering was lifted by a gust of wind in to the air and carried him for 12 feet before he was thrown to the ground has sued in the High Court.

Declan Homan said he was delivering the 4 foot 6 inches mattress to an apartment on the last of 16 deliveries that day when he was “caught by a gust of wind”.

The 54-year-old who said he left work with pain three days after the accident has not had a job since.

In his action against his employer, the father of four has included a claim of €400,000 for loss of earnings to date and into the future.

“It is more than a soft tissue injury. I have a lot of pain and nobody seems to be listening," he told Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Declan Homan (54), Island Lodge, Walsh Island, Co Offaly has sued Etmar Ltd, with offices at Glen Easton Point, Leixlip, Co Kildare as a result of the accident on December 13, 2011. The court heard one of Mr Homan’s brothers is a director of Etmar.

Declan Homan has claimed he was instructed to deliver the mattress and was doing deliveries with another brother in the Sandyford Industrial estate, Dublin. He has claimed he fell from a height of five feet about 12 feet away from the truck.

He has further contended there was an alleged failure to provide him with safety equipment such as a safety harness. Mr Homan claims he suffered pains to his back immediately and he has constant pain made significantly worse by any degree of activity.

The claims are denied.

He told Mr Justice Kevin Cross he went to work the next day and went to a doctor three days after the accident.

Cross examined by Bernard McDonagh SC for Etmar, Mr Homan agreed he had no difficulty with the wind for the first 15 deliveries, but he said it was “windy all day”.

He agreed he had not worked and had been on social welfare since 2011. Counsel put it to him he had been on a number of holidays including four holidays in one year and had been to Florida and Tenerife. Mr Homan replied his wife who was a sales rep paid for the holidays.

Counsel put it to him he was indulging in “gross exaggeration” in relation to his injuries. Mr Homan replied: “ I disagree with you.”

Counsel put it to Mr Homan when one of the defendant’s doctors examining him asked to touch his toes he refused. Mr Homan replied he told the doctor ‘I can’t do that.’

Counsel suggested to him the mattress incident was not foreseeable by his employer as it was caused by a gust of wind. Mr Homan, counsel said had not complained it was too windy to do the job. Mr Homan replied there was no point, as he would have been told to get on with it.

He agreed his social welfare was withdrawn at one stage because he was declared fit to work. Mr Homan said he appealed the decision and he was later deemed unfit to work.

The case before Mr Justice Kevin Cross continues.

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