High Court reporters
A contractor who fell through the roof of a farm building and suffered a traumatic brain injury has settled a High Court action for €1 million.
The High Court heard father of four John Cullinane suffered a devastating injury, but the settlement is on the basis that he was 85 per cent responsible for the accident as he walked across the roof of a sow shed on a Waterford farm seven years ago.
His counsel, Liam Reidy SC, told the court Mr Cullinane had been asked to replace Perspex sheeting on the roof of the sow shed and went up on the roof. Counsel said “the inevitable happened” as Mr Cullinane walked across the roof rather than using a roof ladder.
The court heard Mr Cullinane fell through a Perspex sheet to the ground and suffered a devastating injury.
John Cullinane (45), of Leperstown, Dunmore East, Co Waterford had through his wife Catherine Cullinane sued farmer Patrick Gough, of Passage East, Co Waterford, as a result of the incident on Mr Gough’s farm on September 10th, 2015.
Mr Cullinane, while walking on the roof, it is claimed, inadvertently went on a roof light and it gave way under him causing him to fall from a height to the ground.
It was claimed there was a failure to provide a safe place of work and that Mr Cullinane had allegedly been required to work on a roof surface that was in an alleged unsafe condition.
It was further claimed there was a failure to take any or any adequate steps to distinguish between the roof lights and other permanent elements of the roof structure. The condition of the roof had allegedly deteriorated so that it became difficult or impossible to distinguish between the various elements of the roof structure.
The claims were denied and it was contended that Mr Cullinane, who traded as John Cullinane Plant and Agri Hire, was engaged by the farmer as a self-employed, independent contractor to carry out work on the roof of an agricultural building.
It was claimed he was engaged as a specialist agricultural contractor and was responsible for all aspects of the work that was to be carried out and the manner in which it was to be done, including, it was alleged, the undertaking of the appropriate safety procedures.
Counsel said the €1 million offer was to settle Mr Cullinane’s case and that of his wife, who had sued for nervous shock over the incident.
Mr Reidy said Mr Cullinane faced problems in the case in relation to liability adding he had chosen to walk across the roof and was the experienced person on site.
Counsel said his side were recommending the offer to the court with a determination of liability of 85 per cent against Mr Cullinane.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Paul Coffey said Mr Cullinane had undoubtedly suffered a devastating injury which had far-reaching consequences for him and his family.
The judge said he was satisfied Mr Cullinane would be confronted with an overwhelming difficulty in establishing liability in the case.
He wished the family all the best for the future.