when Mr Justice Esmond Smyth delivered his judgment at the High Court on 20th January 2012.
In that case, the plaintiff, Billy Nolan, alleged that as a result of a road traffic accident on 17th November 2005 he suffered an injury to his left hand, his left knee and his right foot. He was taken by ambulance to hospital and went on to have an operation and was immobilised for approximately three months thereafter. The plaintiff then had further surgery to remove a piece of plastic from his hand. It was accepted by the court that his injuries were of a serious nature.
Prior to the accident, the plaintiff was an alarm fitter. He alleged that he was unable to continue carrying out this work as it involved working in confined spaces, climbing ladders, lifting weights etc. The plaintiff claimed that he had been earning €500 per week prior to the accident, but his P60 showed earnings of just €356 net per week.
Liability was in issue in the case and the Judge found the plaintiff 40% liable for his own injuries, which meant that the plaintiff was entitled to recover 60% against the defendants. It was clear from the judgment that this compensation for injuries would have been substantial.
However, in the course of giving evidence, the defendants questioned the plaintiff on his hobby of “car-drifting”. The plaintiff stated that he had to give up this hobby and he repeated this assertion to medical attendants when assessed for the purposes of the case. However, in the course of evidence, it became clear that the plaintiff had not in fact given up this hobby and photographs and videos were produced showing the plaintiff engaging in this and other activities. One video showed the plaintiff lifting up another man and throwing him over the counter of a fish and chip shop.
The plaintiff had claimed a substantial loss of earnings, upwards of €450,000, which was supported by way of actuarial report; this report was submitted into evidence. In his written judgment, Mr. Justice Smyth stated that he was satisfied that the plaintiff’s claim for loss of earnings was deliberately exaggerated. He was also satisfied as a matter of probability that the plaintiff himself knew that the information provided in support of his claim for loss of earnings into the future was false and misleading in a material respect. Furthermore, he was satisfied that the plaintiff gave false and misleading evidence in relation to having to give up his hobby of “car-drifting”.
In the circumstances, despite finding an apportionment of liability in the plaintiff’s favour and the nature of his physical injuries, Mr. Justice Esmond Smyth dismissed the plaintiff’s claim pursuant to Section 26, leaving the plaintiff with no compensation.
The case is currently under appeal to the Supreme Court.
This case serves as a timely reminder to plaintiffs that, even in cases of genuine injury, a claim can be dismissed if it is found to have been falsely and deliberately exaggerated in order to obtain additional compensation.
For information on this topic please contact Tríona Walsh or Donal Creaton in our Litigation Department.
Cases can be dismissed under Section 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 if the plaintiff provides false or deliberately misleading evidence.
A High Court case was dismissed recently despite some injury having been sustained by the plaintiff. The injuries were falsely and deliberately exaggerated in order to obtain additional compensation. The case is under appeal to the Supreme Court.