herald

Thursday 23 March 2017

Woman loses €60k injuries claim over city park dog attack

Ms Stewart suffered a fractured right elbow in the incident
Ms Stewart suffered a fractured right elbow in the incident

A woman who was attacked and injured by a loose dog in a public park has lost a €60,000 damages claim for personal injuries against South Dublin County Council.

Circuit Civil Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke told Joanne Stewart (52) that it would be excessive and unreasonable to impose an obligation on the local authority to ensure that no dog, other than those on a lead, ever got into the park.

It was not the intention and effect of the Control of Dogs Act that the council was under an obligation to police the park 24 hours a day, he said.

Ms Stewart, of St John's Wood, Clondalkin, claimed that in September 2012 she was walking her dog on a lead in Corkagh Park when she felt a "massive tug on the back of her left knee and right arm".

She said she had been knocked down and hurt herself on the sharp edge of a path margin. She got up to be faced with a tan boxer dog with a white chest.

Fracture

Ms Stewart told the court she felt a severe pain in her right arm and could not move it.

She later attended hospital, where X-rays revealed a fracture in her right elbow. She underwent surgery and suffered pain in her arm for several months.

Ms Stewart told the council's barrister, John Doherty, that her wound had left a visible scar and she still had difficulty when trying to extend her arm.

She claimed that, according to the Control of Dogs Act 1986, the council was, in the circumstances, the owner of the dog and had permitted it to run loose in the park.

Mr Doherty told the court that the council, which denied negligence, could not be considered as the dog owner, who was a person unknown and who obviously had been in breach of the council's by-laws.

He said there was a dog run that permitted owners to take animals off their lead, but that area was secure and away from the location of this incident.

The authority also denied there was a footpath defect.

Judge Groarke said he was satisfied that the council, in law, was not the dog owner.

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