RTÉ pays €2m in­jury claims – 75% to staff

Fig­ures show ex­plo­sive rise in cases against broad­caster since 2015

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By John Lee john.lee@mailon­sun­day.ie PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

RTÉ has paid out al­most €2m in per­sonal in­jury claims over the past seven years – three quar­ters of which has been paid to the State broad­caster’s own staff.

In ad­di­tion, €1.7m of the €2m has been paid since 2015 – in­di­cat­ing an ex­plo­sion in the num­ber and size of claims over the past three years.

Fig­ures ob­tained by the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day, show €1,490,412 in to­tal has been paid set­tling 44 le­gal ac­tions with RTÉ’s own staff over in­juries in­curred in work be­tween 2010 and 2017.

Eighty per cent of this – or €1.2m – has been paid out since 2015.

In com­par­i­son, a to­tal of €492,716 has been paid set­tling 15 le­gal ac­tions with mem­bers of the public be­tween 2010 and 2017, with €485,734 – or 98% – of it handed over be­tween 2015 and 2017.

When con­tacted, RTÉ re­fused to ex­plain the na­ture of events be­hind the sharp rise of em­ployee claims. It also re­fused to re­lease de­tails of the in­juries or the na­ture of the work be­ing pur­sued at the time these in­juries oc­curred.

In fact, any de­tail which could cast light on the ex­tra­or­di­nary amounts of cash paid out has been with­held. How­ever, a court case in 2016 did give a glimpse into the na­ture of one of the claims taken against RTÉ. An RTÉ stu­dio su­per­vi­sor re­ceived an undis­closed set­tle­ment af­ter part of a toi­let roll dis­penser fell on his head in a dis­abled toi­let in Mon­trose.

Christo­pher Bardin, 61, of Rath­mines, Dublin, who had worked for RTÉ for 39 years, claimed he was sit­ting on the toi­let for the dis­abled in the au­di­ence hold­ing area ad­join­ing Stu­dio Four when the cover of the toi­let roll dis­penser un­ex­pect­edly opened and hit him on the left side of the head. He claimed he has suf­fered tin­ni­tus in his left ear fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent in 2008.

Mr Bardin also filed an­other per­sonal in­juries claim over an al­leged in­ci­dent in 2012, which he claims sig­nif­i­cantly ex­ac­er­bated his tin­ni­tus con­di­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures given by RTÉ’s in­surer, Zurich, to Fianna Fáil’s fi­nance spokesman Michael McGrath, RTÉ has paid out €1,983,128 to set­tle a to­tal of 59 per­sonal in­jury claims since 2010.

How­ever, a break­down of the fig­ures in­di­cates a mas­sive ac­cel­er­a­tion in claims for the past three years on record. In 2014, there were only two claims un­der the ‘em­ployer’s li­a­bil­ity’ sec­tion, which is for em­ploy­ees’ claims, with the cost of set­tling the two claims amount­ing to €22,238. As re­cently as 2012, there was only one claim for com­pen­sa­tion for in­jury by an RTÉ em­ployee – with that per­son re­ceiv­ing a set­tle­ment of a rel­a­tively low €4,264.

That year there were no claims by mem­bers of the public.

Yet, the fol­low­ing year, 2015, there were ten suc­cess­ful claims by RTÉ em­ploy­ees which cost €537,684, and there were seven claims by the public which cost €246,080. In 2016, there were seven em­ployee claims which came to €357,172 and two public claims at a to­tal of €89,808. Last year, 2017, there were 11 em­ployee claims, amount­ing to €306,558.

Fig­ures from Courts­desk, a le­gal data ser­vice, show for each of the years 2015, 2016 and 2017, RTÉ have been in­volved in record num­bers of lit­i­ga­tion in the High Court. In 2015, there were 43 ple­nary cases listed, higher than the pre­vi­ous record of 29 in 2002. This 2015 fig­ure of 43 jumped to 56 in 2016 and 74 in 2018, each year out­strip­ing the last.

RTÉ re­fused to ex­plain events be­hind the claims In 2015, ten staff claims cost €537,684

in­jury: Bardin took ac­tion

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