If you play five aside on a winters evening or you’re the Chairman of a GAA club that uses Astro turf pitches as a means of generating revenue, then you should pay particular attention to the following story!
This week a 23-year-old man, a Mr Dylan Massey of Ballivor County Meath was before the High Court having sued Longwood GAA club for personal injuries sustained on their Astroturf pitch whilst playing soccer.
The injury occurred when the ball that was being used became lodged between the netting and the top of the fence surrounding the Astroturf pitch. The netting was used to keep the ball within the confines of the playing area. Mr Massey was whooshed up by his fellow team mates to dislodge the ball and when coming back down, the ring on the middle finger of his right hand became caught on the top of the vertical part of the surrounding fence. His own body weight coupled with gravity resulted in a partial amputation of the finger and a complete degloving of the flesh from the finger.
In court Longwood GAA club denied liability stating that Mr Massey had ignored signs stating that players shouldn’t wear rings or jewellery whilst playing at the facility. The evidence of Mr Massey was that there were no such signs on display at the facility at that particular time.
Mr Massey in his evidence stated that he had lost 16% function in his right and dominant hand and had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder because of the injuries. Mr Massey was an accomplished sportsman prior to the injury and had hoped to make the Meath Senior football team but due to the pain in his right hand had now given up Gaelic football and could not hold a hurl due to the pain caused when striking.
In ruling, Mr Justice Anthony Barr found for Mr Massey. He accepted his evidence that there were no such signs on display at the time of the injury and he also ruled that the club had failed in its duty of care to Mr Massey by neglecting to maintain the netting at a safe standard. He reserved particular criticism against the club for allowing the netting to become slack over time.
In awarding damages, he granted €60,000 in general damages and €60,000 for future damages and €20,000 for loss of future opportunity.