Man awarded €508,000 after hotel lift fell three floors has damages reduced by €120,000

Kevin Meehan

16 September 2022

The Court of Appeal has reduced the amount of damages by over €120,000 awarded to a man who suffered multiple severe injuries when a lift in a Kerry hotel plummeted three floors to the ground.

The court reduced Kevin Meehan’s compensation from €508,000 to €383,000 after holding that the certain aspects of the overall damages awarded to him by the High Court were disproportionate.

In a ruling last year the High Court made the award in favour of Mr Meehan, who was one of several members of the same extended family who were in a lift at the Killarney Plaza Hotel when it dropped to the concrete basement car park on July 9th, 2011

Mr Meehan, who is aged in his mid-forties, sustained multiple fractures to the spine and knee injuries and was in a wheelchair for three months after the incident.

The award was made by Mr Justice Michael Hanna who described the incident as being “the stuff of nightmares.”

The case was appealed to the Court of Appeal over how general damages for the pain and suffering Mr Meehan had suffered, and his loss of employment opportunity between the time of the accident in 2011 to the present date had been assessed by the High Court.

In a published judgement the three judge CoA comprised Mr Justice Seamus Noonan Ms Justice Mary Faherty and Mr Justice Donald Binchy held that aspects of the award could not be said to be proportionate.

While Mr Meehan was entitled to compensation for the very serious injuries he sustained, Mr Meehan’s total award should be reduced to a more appropriate amount of €383,000, the CoA ruled.

Mr Meehan from Celbridge, Co Kildare had sued the hotel’s owners, Shawcove Ltd with registered offices at Castleisland, Co Kerry and companies involved in installing and maintaining lifts Ellickson Engineering Ltd, in receivership of Kilmurry, Waterford; Kilell Ltd also of Kilmurry, Waterford and Otis Ltd, Naas Road Business Park, Dublin and Otis Elevator Ireland Ltd of the same address as well as lift components manufacturer Daldoss Elevetronic Spa of Valsugana, Italy.

It was claimed there was a failure to ensure the intended pathway from the car park was safe and free from hazard.

It was also claimed that there was a failure to install a proper functioning lift from the car park to the hotel.

Liability was conceded in the case in 2019 and the matter was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Members of Mr Meehan’s family who were also present in the lift took separate damages actions over injuries they sustained in the incident.

The defendants had brought the appeal against the award.

The appeal was opposed.

Giving the CoA’s decision Mr Justice Noonan said the CoA was not attempting to minimise the seriousness of Mr Meehan’s injuries or the level of pain, trauma and disruption he had to endure.

It was also noted by the CoA that Mr Meehan would have to undergo surgery in the future due to the injuries he sustained.

However, the level of certain damages awarded in this case could not be viewed as proportionate and were comparable to the those awarded to persons who have had their lives destroyed.

In this case the CoA said Mr Meehan had made a remarkable recovery and due to his own efforts was leading a normal and rewarding life, with some limitations that could not be viewed as severe.

The CoA also said that Mr Meehan, who has enjoyed a successful career in the pharmaceutical sector, was entitled to an award of damages for the loss of employment opportunity due to the injuries he sustained.

However, the High Court, the CoA said had made an award under this heading that was not justified by the evidence, and this was a further ground for the overall award to be reduced.

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