© The Irish Times
A former Mr Ireland, who suffered severe brain injuries after he was run over by a bin lorry seven years ago, has been awarded just under €5 million damages against Dublin City Council in the High Court.
Mr Justice Michael Peart said in a reserved judgment that Pádraig Hearns’s night out on April 23rd, 2007, had ended in “utter tragedy, with the result that for the rest of his life he will be unable to live independently or be able to work again in any sort of meaningful employment”.
He said Mr Hearns, an air steward who worked on British Airways long-haul flights, was now under the care of his elderly parents and siblings.
The judge said today that Mr Hearns had been viciously assaulted prior to a bin lorry passing in Sycamore Street in Dublin’s Temple Bar.
The judge said it was unclear how Mr Hearns happened to be under the lorry’s wheels, but it was probable that as he was dazed and confused after being assaulted he fell to the ground and moved in under the truck, perhaps not even knowing what he was doing.
Mr Hearns (39), of Lower Hollywood Cross, Hollywood, Co Wicklow, suffered a skull fracture and was in an induced coma for more than a week.
He spent several months in hospital and suffered significant cognitive impairments and also had to have arm and eye operations.
The court heard that Mr Hearns, who represented Ireland at the Mr World contest, had tyre marks on his back and head after the incident.
The judge said the council had breached its duty of care when the lorry moved off without a man remaining outside to ensure it was safe to do so.
He said the local authority ignored its bylaws, implemented three months before, which do not allow collection of commercial waste between 12pm and 6am in the area.
“It makes complete sense from a public safety point of view that these large refuse trucks would not be permitted to try and negotiate their way through an area such as the narrow and crowded streets of Temple Bar when so many people are present,” he said.
The judge said total damages amounted to €4,885,888 and he would award that figure along with legal costs.
The proceedings were adjourned for mention until October 8th.