Ms. Justice Irvine delivered judgment in the case of Mark Ponisi v MCD Productions Limited recently in the High Court in Dublin. Mr. Ponisi sought damages for personal injuries suffered while attending the 2011 Oxegen Music Festival at Punchestown racecourse, which was organised and managed by the Defendant company. He was standing in a muddy and boggy area of grass listening to the band Kings of Leon when he was knocked from behind into the mud and kicked and trampled by the crowd, causing him to fracture his left ankle. He claimed that the weather had been unseasonably wet and evidence given by a friend described the level of mud as shocking. His engineer criticised the underfoot conditions and claimed that the Defendant had taken insufficient steps to identify hazardous areas and improve the quality of the ground by using a mesh floor or crushed stone. The Defendant gave evidence of numerous site inspections in conjunction with the planning officer and fire officer. Plastic matting, woodchip or straw was provided in areas of heavy traffic, but the Defendant claimed that it was not practical or safe to cover the entire area with matting as this would have created an alternative slipping hazard given the gradient of the ground.
Judge Irvine was satisfied that the ground conditions were muddy and slippery but did not accept that they were as bad as claimed by the Plaintiff. She was also satisfied that while the Plaintiff had been knocked over by one or two festival goers, there had not been any crowd surge as claimed. She held that the Defendant did all that could be reasonably expected of it prior to and during the festival to protect those attending from injury due to poor ground conditions. She dismissed the Plaintiff’s claim in its entirety.
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