herald

Tuesday 28 March 2017

School not at fault for pupil’s hockey pitch fall, insists judge

Ailbhe Cole has lost her case
Ailbhe Cole has lost her case

A student who sued her former school over injuries she received in a fall during training on what she claimed was a badly-lit hockey pitch has lost her High Court action.

When Ailbhe Cole slipped on wet grass at the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny secondary school in Killiney, it was "an accident, pure and simple", Mr Justice Raymond Fullam said.

"Strange as it may seem, accidents can happen where 'somebody else' is not to blame. This was such an occasion," he said.

"Sport is an important part of education in our schools - and not just in developing healthy minds in healthy bodies.

"If schools were to be made legally responsible for pupils slipping on wet or mucky grass in the course of outdoor games, it would be impossible to include any outdoor sport on the curriculum."

Ms Cole (22), who is now in university, was a Leaving Cert student on November 19, 2012, and was training and playing hockey on a winter's evening on the shale and grit school pitch when the accident happened.

Ms Cole, of O'Rourke Park, Sallynoggin, Dublin, claimed there was a failure to install sufficient lighting for the playing field.

Slippery

It was further claimed that the ground around the kerb area of the pitch was slippery.

The claims were denied and the school contended that hockey training only happened light permitting. The court heard that the school has since got a new pitch and facilities.

Dismissing the case, Mr Justice Fullam said Ms Cole's injury was not caused as a result of any negligent act or omission on the part of the school or any deficiency in the facilities provided by the school.

"Specifically, the injury was not caused as a result of a training session being held in darkness or inadequate light or because there was some structural defect or trap in the grass perimeter," the judge said.

Ms Cole slipped while running on wet grass in a maintained area and where she could see where she was going, he said.

She was also familiar with the area, he added.

Ms Cole's counsel asked that costs of the two days' action not be awarded against the student, as he said she was starting out in her adult life.

Mr Justice Fullam said costs follow the event, but he was sure the sides would be able to come to some agreement on the matter.

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