A LIMERICK man who sued the Minister for Social Protection after a chair broke underneath him in the welfare office on Dominic Street has been awarded €6,500 in damages at Limerick Circuit Court.
Ian Carr, who denied deliberately trying to break the chair, had to give up a job and stop playing golf as a result of the injuries he sustained on October 18, 2011, he told Judge Gerald Keyes.
Mr Carr, 25, of Ballynanty Road, Limerick, said he had gone to process a welfare claim and was waiting to be seen when “the chair collapsed beneath me and I fell to floor”.
He claimed he had hit his head off a row of seats behind him and had also suffered injuries to his neck and shoulder.
Mr Carr told Judge Keyes that he had been unable to lift his arm above shoulder height without feeling pain and as a result had to stop playing golf. He also had to give up a bar job in Spain during summer 2013 because of the pain in his shoulder.
It was put to Mr Carr by Murray Johnson BL, defending, that CCTV evidence showed him and a friend leaning on chairs and “rocking backwards and forwards”.
“You see that you spend a considerable number of moments leaning forcefully back on the chair, the chair your friend had sat on beforehand, until it breaks,” said Mr Johnson.
“It was not simply the case that the chair just collapsed. We put it to you that you put a lot of force and effort into making it happen.”
Mr Carr denied this was the case.
Tom Hayes, an engineer appearing for the plaintiff, said Mr Carr was “not the largest man in the world” and that there was “some deficiency in the construction of the chair”.
“This chair failed in what I would consider to be a foreseeable use in a public area,” he said, adding there appeared to be “no abnormal excessive force” in how Mr Carr had leaned back.
Judge Keyes said he was “not satisfied” Mr Carr had come in to the office with some plan in mind or had behaved in a reckless manner.
“I think you are entitled to come in to a public place without expecting a chair to break,” Judge Keyes added.
And while he said he was “not impressed” with the plaintiff’s evidence about his injuries - finding there was no evidence on CCTV that he had hit his head - he awarded Mr Carr general damages of €6,500 plus costs.