RTÉ pays €2m injury claims – 75% to staff
Figures show explosive rise in cases against broadcaster since 2015
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