Court orders man and his lawyers to pay back €50,000 in ‘slippery tiles’ case


The High Court has ordered a man who fell on slippery tiles in the porch of his rented social housing to pay back €30,000 which he partly received.

Judge John Jordan also ordered the lawyers who acted for Thomas Keegan (53) to reimburse €20,000 received as partial payment of fees.

The judge made the order regarding sums paid by Sligo Co council as a condition for the local authority to be allowed to appeal against a €105,000 compensation award awarded by the High Court in 2017 to Mr Keegan for the accident at his home on McNeill Drive. , Cranmore, County Sligo.

Mr Keegan, who previously worked as a paver, had claimed the slipperiness of the terracotta tiling originally installed in the porch, as well as the angle of the porch to face the prevailing wind and rain in Sligo, created a hazard particular.

In 2017 the court, sitting in Sligo, found the council liable and there was no contributory negligence on the part of Mr Keegan.

Council was granted leave to appeal on the basis of payment of €50,000, including €30,000 for Mr Keegan, to his solicitors.

The Court of Appeal (CoA) ordered a new trial and earlier this month Judge Jordan found no liability on the part of counsel. He found it “artificial” for Mr Keegan to suggest he was a visitor to his home.

‘Unfortunate’

The case returned to Judge Jordan on Friday over the issue of costs relating to the second High Court hearing.

Peter Bland SC, for counsel, argued that his client was entitled to these costs, but he had no objection to a stay in the event of another appeal to the CoA. He sought reimbursement of both the €30,000 for Mr Keegan and the €20,000 for his lawyers in view of the cancellation of the first case.

John Finlay SC, on behalf of Mr Keegan, said he could not oppose the order for costs or an order for restitution.

Judge Jordan awarded counsel his costs for the new trial, except for a one-day fee related to expert testimony presented by counsel “that made a difference” in the case.

It is unfortunate that the council did not hire this expert at an early stage of the case and Mr Keegan might have been spared all that time and expense that followed, he said .

He also ordered the return of the monies paid, but noted that if the council had difficulty paying this money as a condition for him being allowed to appeal, he could have appealed this case himself, but he didn’t.

injuries

The court heard the crash happened on November 18, 2013, when Mr Keegan returned home shortly after 5pm after visiting several pubs where he had consumed five pints of Guinness.

He suffered a serious injury to his left ankle, with x-rays revealing a fracture to his left distal tibia and fibula.

The board did not argue that the consumption of this level of drink was an act of contributory negligence, but did argue it as a factor in relation to Mr. Keegan’s duty to take reasonable care for his own safety and in his conflicting accounts of how the accident happened.

After hearing expert testimony, Judge Jordan was convinced that unglazed tiles presented no danger.

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