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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

Passenger loses personal injury claim over Bus Éireann vehicle involved in 4mph scrape with car

Judge Gerald Keys said that the video of the incident which occurred in June 2016 “speaks for itself”.

File photo. Bus Éireann bus.
File photo. Bus Éireann bus.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A JUDGE HAS told a court that Bus Éireann would have to stop carrying passengers altogether in the morning if a personal injury damages claim by a 77-year-old Limerick man was to succeed.

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys made his comment when dismissing the personal injury claim against Bus Eireann by passenger, John Mackessy who claimed that he sustained injuries to his right side and shoulder when a Bus Eireann bus scraped the side of a Toyota Yaris three years ago on the outskirts of Limerick.

The bus was travelling at 2mph to 4mph at the time of impact and the driver of the Toyota Yaris, Aimee Quirke told the court that she paid €150 from her own pocket to repair the ‘tiny bit of paint’ scraped off her car from the ‘slight tip’.

In court, retired confectioner Mackessy said that he is “in constant pain” from the incident at the Westbury estate in June 2016. 

Mackessy of Granian, Westbury, Corbally claimed that before the impact with Quirke’s car at around 6.30pm on 16 June 2016 at Westbury outside Limerick city, the Bus Eireann bus he was a passenger on “picked up a fair bit of speed” and mounted a kerb.

However, on board Bus Eireann CCTV footage of the incident that displayed a speedometer on the screen showed in court that the bus slowed down from 22mph on the straight to 2mph to 4mph when making contact with Quirke’s car when turning into the Westbury estate.

Mackessy told the court “I didn’t realise at the time that I was hurt” but when he got home “I felt a pain. It got worse and worse. I had a terrible time with it. I couldn’t sleep that night with the pain.”

He said: “You can feel pain but you can’t see it. As I sit here I am some discomfort with it.”

Counsel for Bus Eireann, Niall O’Driscoll BL (instructed by solicitor Colm Hickey) told Mackessy that he was exaggerating his claim.

In response, Mackessy said: “I am not exaggerating it. All I know is that I was hurt. I wouldn’t be here otherwise…I have constant pain – that is all I can say. I’m being truthful here in everything I am saying. I’m imagining nothing – I am talking the truth.”

O’Driscoll told the court that Mackessy had painted a picture of a ‘runaway’ bus and Mackessy denied this.

O’Driscoll said that video showed “the most minor imperceptible touch on the car”.

Video ‘speaks for itself’

In his judgement, Judge Gerald Keys said that the video of the incident “speaks for itself” and dismissed Mackessy’s claim for damages against Bus Eireann and Quirke.

Judge Keys said: “I can observe the speed with which the bus negotiated the bend and all I can is – it wasn’t fast.”

Judge Keys said that Mackessy alleged that the bus accelerated as it approached the bend “and having observed the video, that is not the case – in fact it slows down and continued to slow down”.

Judge Keys said there was a scraping impact between the bus and the car “to such an extent that there was no damage to the bus and all that was required was a paint repair job to the car”.

He said: “It was an extremely minor contact that was made.”

Judge Keys said that the CCTV footage shows that the bus didn’t mount the kerb.

He said: “I can only come to one conclusion – that the impact between the bus and Aimee Quirke’s car could not have caused Mr Mackessy’s injuries.”

Judge Keys added: “I am not saying that Mr Mackessy did not suffer from the injuries complained of. All I am saying is that it is highly unlikely they were caused by the bus on that date.”

On board CCTV footage also showed the reaction of Mackessy and other passengers to the impact and Judge Keys said that there was no deviation of any movements of passengers and Mackessy at the time of impact.

In evidence, Mackessy said that on impact “I went every way for a few seconds, forwards and backwards”.

Mackessy described Westbury as “a very dangerous estate with a lot of tight turns. it is like a racing track to be honest with you”.

He said: “It was not a slight bang, it was a fairly heavy bang because I got to feel it.”

On the evening, Quirke was on her way to play in a tag rugby match at the Old Crescent rugby grounds and in evidence, Quirke said that the bus “tipped off my car – I don’t even think the bus driver was aware because the tip was so minor”.

She said: “It was a tip, a scrape. I was out of my car straightaway to tell the bus driver what happened.”

Garda Donal Doohan told the court “that there was a minor scrape to the door of the Toyota Yaris and no visible damage to the bus”.

O’Driscoll applied for Mackessy to pay Bus Eireann’s costs but after Mackessy withdrew a separate personal injury action against Bus Eireann concerning a different on bus incident, O’Driscoll told the court that Bus Eireann would not be pursuing Mr Mackessy for the costs of the first case.

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Gordon Deegan

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