herald

Thursday 17 October 2019

Insurer told to pay costs of footballer 'punched' on pitch

Player ‘was knocked out’
Player ‘was knocked out’

An insurance company must pay the legal costs of an amateur footballer who sued after an unidentified substitute from the opposing team allegedly ran on to the pitch and punched him unconscious.

The High Court ruled bank official David Sutton (42) was entitled to costs of bringing his case after Royal and Sun Alliance took 15 months to say it would not be indemnifying the club whose substitute was the alleged assailant.

Mr Sutton, of Gainsborough Green, Malahide, Co Dublin, sued Kingswood FC, Tallaght.

Mr Sutton was playing against Kingswood for Malahide FC at the Cemetery Grounds in Ballymount, Dublin, when the alleged incident happened on December 7, 2013.

Mr Sutton claimed Kingswood, through their agents and managers, allowed a substitute "who had a violent propensity" on to the field.

The sub came up behind Mr Sutton and struck him in the face, knocking him unconscious to the ground, it was claimed.

He also claimed Kingswood failed to exercise control over their players and failed to identify the attacker or immediately report the incident to the Leinster Senior Football League.

Mr Sutton initially brought proceedings in October 2016 against the club and later sought to join Royal and Sun Alliance as a co-defendant.

The insurer later said the policy did not indemnify the club for the alleged incident.

Yesterday, Mr Sutton's counsel, Jonathan Kilfeather, asked Mr Justice Seamus Noonan to award his client legal costs against Royal and Sun Alliance.

An investigation was carried out into the incident and the upshot of it was that no one on the defendant's team was able to identify the s ub, counsel said.

Unfair

Mr Kilfeather said there was case law to support his argument that he was entitled to costs.

Francis Martin, for Royal and Sun Alliance, said it would be "wholly unfair" to grant costs given the case had not fully progressed and it was still open to Mr Sutton to continue to sue the club.

Mr Justice Noonan said it was 15 months after proceedings were brought that the insurer said it was not going to indemnify. He agreed there was case law to say Mr Sutton was entitled to his costs.

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