€35,000 in damages awarded to 11 year old after finger trapped in seat

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Ellie Cooper, an 11-year-old school girl had been attending a play at Connolly House, Marino College, Dublin with other children when her right index finger became trapped in the seat.

Ellie’s finger was trapped between the seat and the hinge mechanism causing the tip of it to fracture. She had been sitting in the front row on a chair that was fixed to the floor.

Ellie had been taken to the Children’s University Hospital in Dublin by ambulance as her finger had been bleeding heavily. An X-ray revealed it was fractured.

The court heard how although Ellie had recovered fully she had been absent from school and had experienced difficulties in her everyday life.

City of Dublin Education Board of Townhall, Ballsbridge and Five Lamps Arts Festival were sued through her father David Cooper for negligence. It was claimed that the defendants had failed to provide safe seating for the children and had failed to investigate the movement of the seats.

A settlement offer of €35,000 was made by the defendants which Mr Nolan recommended on the basis that liability was very much an issue. This offer was approved by Justice Groarke.

The above case illustrates how cases where liability is still an issue can settle even where there are no significant on-going injuries. In cases where a minor is suing through their “Next Friend” any offers must be approved by a judge.

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