*Lahinch playground. 

AN ELEVEN year old boy who looked “like a shark” after suffering multiple injuries across a number of teeth when playing with his older brother on a ‘Wind-Surfer Rocker’ at Lahinch playground has been awarded €18,850.

In the contested personal injury action at Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Francs Comerford has ordered the voluntary operators of Lahinch playground to pay €18,850 compensation to Limerick teenager, Oisin Ryan Blake for dental injuries he sustained from the accident while on the Wind-Surfer Rocker on March 4th 2016.

The €18,850 in damages to be paid by the Management Committee of the Lahinch Playground Project to Mr Ryan Blake, now aged 18, is made up of general damages of €17,000 along with €1,850 in special damages.

The playground, located opposite Lahinch prom at the popular seaside resort, is used by thousands of children on their holidays every summer and has been developed from local fundraising. The Wind-Surfer Rocker remains in operation today at the playground.

Judge Comerford said that it is his inclination not to find against playgrounds unless there is a defect with playing equipment but he found that in this case the Wind-Surfer Rocker was defective after finding that it had a missing bolt and the management committee was liable.

He said, “I really think it is difficult that so many recreational activities are put under the burden of multiple claims -I have huge sympathy for that”.

The voluntary playground committee also faces a costs bill after Judge Comerford awarded costs to Mr Ryan Blake in the case.

CCTV footage was viewed in court of the incident and Judge Comerford said that it was his belief “that the Wind-Surfer moves too much and there had to be a defect”.

Prior to the incident, Mr Ryan Blake told the court that he had spent time in hospital – in 2012, Oisin received an Irish Heart Foundation ‘Life After Stroke’ award for the recovery he made after suffering a stroke at the age of seven while playing for Limerick club, Caherdavin Celtic.

In evidence, Oisin’s brother, Robin said that Oisin “looked like a shark with his teeth coming up” after the WindSurfer had struck his younger brother in the mouth.

The two boys had entered the empty playground at around 8pm at night without any adult supervision after having just arrived at the seaside resort with their grand-father who was preparing their camper van for the overnight stay.

CCTV was shown to the court of Robin, then aged 13, and Oisin on either side of the Wind-Surfer and after Robin came off it, the Wind-Surfer sprung into the face of the Oisin causing the injuries and he was immediately brought to University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

In evidence, Robin, now aged 22, said that he didn’t come off the Wind-Surfer on purpose as he was terrified as it was going back too much. He said, “I didn’t expect to see his face smashed up”.

After the Wind-Surfer struck Oisin, Robin said, “There were a lot of screams from him and me after seeing his face and the condition he was in”.

In evidence, Oisin told the court that after the Wind-Surfer struck him in the mouth “I felt my mouth and saw a load of blood on my hand and ran straight back to the camper van. I was in a load of pain”.

Oisin said that he subsequently required root canal work and had to wear braces on his teeth until 2020/21.

He said that in the immediate two to three weeks after the incident, he was on a diet of soft foods, soup, liquids or mash as he recovered from his injuries.

The management committee argued that the claim should be dismissed as two boys were trespassers and were without adult supervision and there was a sign stating that children should be supervised. The management committee also argued that the Wind-Surfer was not defective.

Judge Comerford found against the management committee on those three grounds. Judge Comerford put a stay on his order pending an appeal of his ruling to the High Court.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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