Court hears of plain­tiff’s ‘the­atrics’ as car crash compo claim dis­missed

Irish Examiner - - News - Liam Heylin

Bizarre and the­atri­cal be­hav­iour by a man in the back of a Nis­san Mi­cra at the scene of a mi­nor traf­fic in­ci­dent saw him hold him­self rigid and reach for his head, neck, and back, moan in agony, and in­sist that the fire bri­gade cut the roof off the car to get him to hos­pi­tal.

At one stage in the colour­ful ev­i­dence at Cork Cir­cuit Court, Judge Seán Ó Donnab­háin asked the plain­tiff, John Stokes of 2 Deer­park, Charleville, Co Cork: “Did you look for a he­li­copter?” He did not.

Mr Stokes, aged 25, had his case for com­pen­sa­tion dis­missed. He was su­ing Axa, the in­sur­ers for his friend, Aaron Buck­ley, of Gur­rane North, Donough­more, Co Cork, who was driv­ing the car at the time when it al­legedly drove into the rear of a van in front of them at a round­about in Wil­ton.

Costs were awarded against Mr Stokes.

There were five men in the Nis­san Mi­cra, in­clud­ing the driver. They had been in Wil­ton Shop­ping Cen­tre buy­ing T-shirts and were on their way to a gym in Black­pool. A sec­ond plain­tiff who was also in the Mi­cra, Michael Stokes of 5 St An­thony’ s Park, Knock­na­heeny, could not make it to court for his case as it co­in­cided with his wed­ding day.

Judge Ó Donnab­háin dis­missed his case as well and awarded costs only in the event of an ap­peal, adding: “I suppose it is ex­pen­sive enough to get mar­ried.”

John Stokes tes­ti­fied that the five of them “picked up a few bits and pieces” in Wil­ton. He later told Joanne Car­roll in cross-ex­am­i­na­tion they bought T-shirts. He agreed with his own coun­sel James Dug­gan, that he had neck and back pain, drowsi­ness, am­ne­sia, and dizzi­ness and it took him six months to re­cover. Ms Car­roll won­dered how he had symp­toms such as am­ne­sia and dizzi­ness when he did not hit his head against any­thing and had no head in­jury. He de­nied look­ing for the fire bri­gade to cut the roof of the car to ex­tri­cate him.

First on the scene of the al­leged ac­ci­dent on April 15 was con­sul­tant in pre-hos­pi­tal emer­gency medicine and crit­i­cal care Ja­son van der Velde, who was in the area at the time. He de­scribed a scene of “the­atrics” where all the men were com­plain­ing of neck and back in­jury.

“They were all ly­ing back in very bizarre po­si­tions and were very con­torted,” said Dr . To be hon­est, I would not even call it an ac­ci­dent. It was pure the­atrics. All four [sic] were de­mand­ing to be cut out by the fire ser­vice and taken by am­bu­lance to hos­pi­tal say­ing they were un­able to walk.”

Dr van der Velde said the car was only 50m from the hos­pi­tal and he later saw them all walk­ing to the emer­gency depart­ment, where they were an­grily bang­ing on the par­ti­tion glass de­mand­ing to be seen when they were told to wait.

The doc­tor said the con­tor­tions from John Stokes at the scene were ab­so­lutely bizarre as he twisted into po­si­tions in­con­sis­tent with the in­juries of which he com­plained.

Dr van der Velde said that, in 26 years of emer­gency medicine, he had never seen any­thing like it.

Judge Ó Donnab­háin said Dr van der Velde’s ev­i­dence was fun­da­men­tal to the case in terms of what he ob­served and the bizarre be­hav­iour which he de­scribed — the plain­tiff in­sist­ing that he be cut from the car be­cause he could not move and later walk­ing around the CUH de­mand­ing at­ten­tion.

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