Aspiring jockey loses case over hand impaled on fence

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paulmcdermottby Andrew Carey

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AN ASPIRING Limerick jockey whose hand was impaled on a ten foot fence, has lost his High Court action for damages against Limerick City Council and one of the biggest community enterprise centres in the country.

A two-day hearing before Mr Justice Donald Binchy, heard how 23-year-old Antone Stanners had been playing football with Moyross United, at an astro turf pitch adjacent to the Moyross Community Enterprise Centre when he suffered the injury.

Mr Stanners of Delmege Park, who featured in RTE’s ‘Ear to the Ground’ programme as an aspiring young jockey involved in training younger teenagers in horsemanship, said the club policy was that if the ball went over the fence, the player who kicked it had to get it.

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Retrieving the football involved climbing the ten-foot fence to access a locked playground.

On March 10, 2010, he was climbing the fence to get a ball when his right hand was ripped after it was caught in a spike at the top.

A month earlier, when the pitch was reopened after a full surface renovation, the football club met with the managers of the community centre who outlined the rules of usage as well as informing them that climbing the fence was prohibited.

An alternative method of retrieving the ball was introduced which involved calling to the community centre and requesting security personnel to open the gate to the playground.

However, players using the facility found this to be time-consuming and inconvenient.

Mr Stanners’ injuries included a laceration running the length of his right hand that required two operations and several sessions of physiotherapy. As a result, he now had trouble using the reigns and could only drive horses suitable for children. He was left with a permanent disfigurement of his hand and issues with the strength of his grip.

The court heard conflicting evidence from engineers on the suitability of the fencing used around the pitch.

Counsel for Mr Stanners, Padraig McCartan SC, said that the method introduced by the centre management to retrieve footballs was “a haphazard system” at best.

Michael McGrath SC for the local authority said: “these are adults and they surely shouldn’t have to be told of the dangers of climbing a ten-foot fence”.

 

Justice Binchy said that the court accepted the evidence of Moyross Community Enterprise Centre Manager Paddy Flannery that Moyross United was told that the safety of players was their responsibility.

He also accepted that the community centre management took “all steps reasonable to ensure the duty of care.”

Stating that it would be an “extraordinarily harsh ruling to say that the centre behaved in a reckless manner”, Justice Binchy dismissed the action.

Costs were awarded against Mr Stanners but a stay was put on the order on the basis that he wouldn’t appeal the decision.