A Circuit Civil Court judge has awarded a seventeen-year-old boy €7,500 compensation for a dog bite injury after finding an animal rescue centre negligent.
Rhys Loy was just twelve years of age when, in November 2009, he was cycling home from school in Raheny, Dublin. As he mounted the pavement, Rhys was bitten by a five-year-old Collie – Charlie – who was being walked on a rope by its temporary owner Anecy Sholling.
Rhys suffered a superficial laceration to his left calf and was taken to the Children´s University Hospital in Temple Street, where his wound was cleaned and sutured. Rhys – who lives in Clongriffin in Dublin – had to return to the hospital on several occasions to have his dressings changed.
Through his mother, Sinead Byrne, Rhys claimed compensation for a dog bite injury against the owners of the dog – Deidre and Gina Hetherington of the PAWS animal rescue centre in Mullinahone, County Tipperary. Ms Byrne also organised a warrant to have the dog put down.
The Hetheringtons denied liability for Rhys´ injuries and claimed that the Collie had been adopted by Ms Sholling several months before the attack. They also denied any knowledge of the dog´s whereabouts after he escaped capture by the Gardai who were trying to execute the warrant.
The claim for compensation for a dog bite injury went to the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, where it was heard by Mr Justice Raymond Groarke. At the hearing the judge heard testimony that the Collie was being fostered by Ms Sholling at the time of the attack, and that the dog had been returned to the animal rescue centre afterwards.
As the dog was in the ownership of the animal rescue centre at the time of the attack, the judge found Deidre and Gina Hetherington negligent and ordered them to pay Rhys €7,500 compensation for a dog bite injury – adding that he did not believe it was a coincidence the Collie had escaped his punishment.
A girl, who suffered significant bite injuries from a dog that had been allowed to roam freely on the road, is to receive €150,000 compensation for a Rottweiler attack.
Lauren Kelly was just nine years of age when she was out with friends playing “hunting the wren” on St Stephens Day in 2011. As Lauren walked down the road in her home town of Abbeylara in County Longford, she came across a Rottweiler that been allowed to escape from its home and stray onto the public road.
The Rottweiler attacked the young girl and, despite the attentions of her mother, Lauren suffered multiple bite injuries to her upper right arm. Lauren was taken to hospital, where she was treated for 26 puncture wounds. She has had to undergo skin grafts and has been left with significant scarring.
Through her father – Michael Kelly – Lauren claimed compensation for the Rottweiler attack against the owner of the dog, William Crawford – also of Abbeylara in County Longford. Crawford admitted liability and a settlement of compensation for a rottweiler attack was negotiated amounting to €150,000.
At the High Court in Dublin, Mr Justice Kevin Cross heard how Lauren had been thrown around like a rag doll while the attack was in progress. The judge was also told how Lauren experienced nightmares and a bout of sleepwalking after the incident, but that these psychological injuries had now receded – although Lauren still retains a fear of large dogs.
The judge approved the settlement of €150,000 compensation for the Rottweiler attack. The funds will be held in a trust until Lauren is eighteen years of age, although her patents will be able to access the compensation if Lauren needs further medical care to cope with the consequences of the vicious attack.
The High Court in Dublin has upheld a claim for dog bite injury compensation in favour of a postman who was bitten on the face while attempting to deliver mail to a Kilbeggan address.
On 8th October 2008, sixty-three year old Joseph Dunne from Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, was delivering mail to an address in Kilbeggan when he was attacked by a husky-type dog that had escaped from the garden of the house through a hole in the hedge.
The big dog jumped up at Joseph and knocked him to the ground, where Joseph was clawed and bitten by the dog. The attack was stopped by two passers-by – one of whom hit the dog across the back with a stick – and Joseph was taken to hospital, were he was treated for lacerations to his face.
Mr Justice Michael Moriarty at the High Court in Dublin was told that Joseph needed 22 stitches to the right side of his face and treatment for nerve damage which affected movement in his forehead. The judge also heard that Joseph later underwent plastic surgery to disguise the worst of the scarring from the attack.
Joseph returned to work soon after the incident and after receiving legal advice made a claim for dog bite injury compensation against the couple who owned the husky – Olive Dalton and Martin Maher of Kilbeggan – claiming that they had been negligent in failing to enclose their garden securely and allowing the dog to escape.
The couple denied their liability for Joseph´s injuries – despite having had the dog put down the day after the attack – but, at the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty ruled in Joseph´s favour and awarded him €55,000 in settlement of his claim for dog bite injury compensation; commenting that Joseph had been brave to return to work so soon after such a particularly frightening incident.
A Circuit Court judge has refused to approve the settlement of compensation for a dog bite proposed for a nine-year-old girl bitten on the face by a neighbour´s dog.
The little girl – Amy Shortle of Donabate, County Dublin – had been playing with children of neighbours Thomas Tol and Tracey Lynch when, in December 2011, she bent down to change her shoes and was bitten by the family´s Spaniel.
Amy suffered a laceration on the left side of her face and two more on the right side which needed twenty stitches when the family took her to hospital. Amy´s doctors believe that she may require laser treatment in the future to prevent permanent scarring.
Amy´s parents agreed a settlement of compensation for a dog bite with the owners of the dog but, at the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Judge Mr Justice Raymond Groarke refused to approve the settlement on the grounds that Amy was still experiencing ongoing discomfort from the injury and there was the potential requirement for more treatment in the future.
Judge Groake adjourned the proceedings for further negotiations between the two parties.
Footnote: All settlements of personal injury claims for children in Ireland must be approved by a judge before they can be resolved. Judge Groake was perfectly within his remit not to approve the settlement of compensation for a dog bite in this case, as Amy parents would be liable for any treatment costs should the revision of Amy´s scars through plastic surgery amount to more than the value of the settlement.
A pizza delivery man, who sustained a finger injury when delivering advertising leaflets, has been awarded €7,000 in dog bite through letterbox compensation after successfully appealing his case to the High Court.
The delivery man (23) made his claim for a dog bite through letterbox after being bitten by an Alsatian-type dog owned by Vincent and Bernie Fitzgerald of Portobello, Dublin, in October 2009. He required hospital treatment for his finger injury and a tetanus injection, after which he consulted a solicitor in respect of claiming dog bite through letterbox compensation for his injuries.
The Fitzgerald´s denied the Claimant´s dog bite through letterbox claim and, when the case was originally heard before Mr Justice Matthew Deery in the Circuit Civil Court in February 2012, Mr Justice Deery determined that the Claimant had no legal right to put his hand through the letterbox. Mr Justice Deery also dismissed a claim by the Claimant against his employers – Apache Pizzas.
However, at the High Court in Dublin, Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley allowed the appeal on the grounds that the flap at the back of the letterbox did not extend the full depth of the aperture and stated “It seems to me entirely possible the dog in fact got its nose under the flap and managed to bite his hand.” She found that there was no further need to prove that the Fitzgerald´s had been negligent.
The judge awarded the Claimant €7,000 in dog bite through letterbox compensation plus costs for his two court cases.
A postman, who suffered hand and head injuries when bitten by a dog during his rounds, has been awarded €21,933 in compensation after his claim for a dog bite injury to a postman was resolved in the Circuit Civil Court.
James Coll (50) from Kilcock, County Kildare, had been substituting for the regular postman who made deliveries in Rathcoole, County Dublin, when his accident happened. As he posted the mail through the letterbox of Amanda McMahon and her former partner, Darren Anderson, the couple’s family boxer jumped up to the letterbox from inside the house and bit James on the right hand index finger.
As a consequence of the unexpected attack, James fell backwards and hit his head on the path leading to the house – sustaining damage to a tooth when he fell. After receiving medical treatment for his injuries and seeking legal advice, James made a claim for dog bite injury to a postman against the owners of the dog and against An Post who had not provided any warnings to him about dangerous dogs on the route or trained him on how to deal with such situations.
At the Circuit Civil Court in Dublin, Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard evidence from the postman who regularly serviced the Rathcoole round that the dog would usually just pull the letters from his hand as he put them through the letterbox and from forensic engineer Alan Conlan, who testified that the lack of a backplate or draught excluder on the letterbox would have presented a significant hazard to postmen.
Judge Linnane dismissed the claim for a dog bite injury to a postman against An Post and found Amanda McMahon and Darren Anderson liable for James´ injuries. Awarding James €21,933 in compensation for a dog bite injury to a postman, she also stated that Ms McMahon and Mr Anderson should be liable for the costs An Post had incurred in defending the claim made against them.
A letter published in today´s Independent has asked a question about what a parent should do when their child is bitten by a dog off a lead in a public park.
Fortunately the child´s skin was not punctured and, other than the trauma of being attacked by the dog, the boy did not suffer any injury. Nonetheless, his parent took him to hospital for a precautionary tetanus injection.
The issue raised by the parent was that the owner of the dog said that he was allowed to let his dog off the lead between certain hours, and whereas this might be the case in certain local authorities, the parent wanted to know if there were other standards in place to prevent a child being bitten by a dog off a lead in a public place.
In answer to the question, the Independent´s legal advisor listed some of the legislation governing the control of pets in public places and gave the parent a number of options.
According to the legal advisor, all dogs in public places must be under the control of their owner or another person able to control the animal (Control of Dogs Act 1986 and 1992). Under Section 22 of the Act, a dog that is proven to have attacked a person has not been kept under control and is dealt with as a “dangerous dog”.
This means that that the parent could report their child being bitten by a dog off a lead in a public place and the District Court could impose fines on the owner and order to have the dog destroyed – irrespective of any bye-laws.
The parent could also make a claim for compensation on behalf of their child for being bitten by a dog off a lead in a public place under the Civil Liability Act 1961, even though the boy did not suffer any physical injury.
The legal advisor also quoted figures from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA), who estimates that up to half of children will have been bitten by a dog by the age of 12; although the majority of these incidents involve a family pet who has been teased or unintentionally provoked.
Nationwide there were 3,654 on-the-spot fines issued and 225 dog owners prosecuted under the Control of Dogs Act in 2010.
A woman, who sustained facial cuts and broken teeth when she was attacked by her brother-in-law’s dog, is to receive 47,000 Euros compensation.
Catherine Masterson (47) from Lanesboro, County Longsford, was visiting her brother-in-law – Henry Masterson from Armthorpe, Doncaster – while he was on holiday near Knockcroghery in Roscommon in May 2008.
As she passed by his camper van, Henry Masterson’s dog – a Japanese Akita – leapt up at Catherine and knocked her to the floor. The dog started to maul at Catherine and bit her face and hand, leaving her with permanent scarring and five broken teeth.
It was only due to the intervention of Mr Masterson that her injuries were not worse, and it was later discovered that the chain restraining the dog had snapped when the dog first leapt at Catherine. Although liability for the attack was conceded by Mr Masterson, the case went to the High Court for assessment of damages.
At the High Court, Mr Justice Michael Peart heard that Mr Masterson had originally acquired the dog from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and it had never displayed behaviour to concern him that such an attack might happen.
Mr Masterson expressed remorse for the attack on his sister-in-law, and explained to the court that the dog had been returned to the RSPCA and subsequently put down.
Judge Peart also heard that, since the attack, Catherine has developed a fear of dogs and in announcing the compensation award of 47,000 Euros commented that she had sustained very serious injuries.
A young girl, who was bitten by a dog during a family holiday in Dublin, has had a compensation settlement of 5,500 euros approved in the Circuit Court by Mr. Justice Matthew Deery.
The court heard how Ciara Hill (12) of Lucan, County Dublin, was a guest at the Finnstown House Hotel, County Dublin in July 2007, when she was attacked and bitten by a dog owned by the hotel.
In the action against FTP Hotel Limited, Ciara was represented by her mother, who explained how her daughter – who was just eight years old at the time – was traumatised, shocked and upset by the incident.
Approving the compensation settlement, Mr. Justice Matthew Deery said that Ciara´s physical injuries had not been significant and that they had healed quickly.
All settlements involving children under the age of 18 years have to be approved in court before payment can be paid, even when a settlement agreement has been previously reached by the claimant and the defendant. The type of court which hears the case will depend on the value of the compensation.
Clive Haevey of Slane, County Meath, has been awarded €32,000 for injuries sustained when a dog ran out in front of his motorbike, causing him to crash. Mr Heavey was knocked unconscious and sustained two fractures to his skull. The accident happened in March 1998 outside the Grangegeeth pub in Courty Meath.
The dog was a cross between an Alsatian and a Labrador.
The lawsuit for negligence and breach of duty claimed that the dog owner, Richard McKenna, had failed to control or supervise his dog and was not in compliance with the provisions of the 1986 Control of Dogs Act.
Mr Justice Kearns of the High Court heard the case and noted that while Mr Heavey had made a good recovery he had suffered a ‘very frightening experience”.
Two young children who witnessed a savage dog attack on their mother, Mrs. Bernadette O’Leary, are to receive €75,000 between them for trauma and shock as part of the overal settlement. Mrs. O’Leary was staying in a relative’s house in Waterfall, Co Cork. Another relative was responsible for looking after three collie dogs in the back garden.
It was alleged that Mrs. O’Leary was attacked by the three dogs in the back garden, although the house owners claimed that O’Leary had been told to not use the back garden and was therefore tresspassing at the time. It was claimed that the attack resulted in lip and arm injuries that were witnessed by two young children. One of the children kept a part of Mrs. O’Leary’s lip on ice in the hope that it could be stitched back on. The children were not injured in the incident but are to receive €75,000 between them for the trauma and shock of seeing their mother attacked.
There was no admission of liability with the settlement.