A 37-year-old network technician, who injured his right elbow while installing UPC cables on a house, has been awarded damages in the Circuit Civil Court.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke reduced Jakub Plotka’s €40,000 damages award by a third for contributory negligence, to a total of €26,667.
Plotka, who sued employer Sierra Communications Ltd and UPC Communications Ireland Ltd, told the court that he was putting a cable on a house wall in May 27, 2014 when he slipped off his ladder.
He said he had been with a colleague and had set his ladder against a wall with bushes. While descending the ladder, he had slipped on leaves which had gone through the steps.
Plotka told his barrister, Lydia Bunny, that as he tried to hold on with one hand, he rotated to the side and struck his right elbow. He had felt pain and discomfort in his upper arm but had continued to work that day.
He had later attended his GP who referred him to the Kilkenny Hospital where X-rays did not reveal any fracture. He had suffered soft-tissue injuries and his life had been discommoded since the incident.
Plotka, of Sandhills, Hackestown Road, Carlow, told the court that he was now working at a different position within the company as he could not undertake heavy work anymore.
He claimed he had not been trained for this type of slippery hazard and the company safety guides did not mention what to do when confronted with foliage.
Alan Conlan, a forensic engineer who gave evidence on behalf of Plotka, said he had to cable at least 18 houses per day and had been working under pressure. He said bushes were a frequent hazard for this particular job and another person should have been assigned to work with Mr Plotka and his colleague.
Barrister Shane English, counsel for both defendants, said his clients denied liability and claimed Mr Plotka was a highly trained and experienced employee.
They alleged Plotka, having felt that the bushes were a hazard before starting the job, should have called his supervisor as per company procedure.
Judge Groarke said he did not believe that foliage had been considered a hazard sufficient enough to call the supervisor each time. He said Mr
Plotka had felt he had to get on with the job but should have been more careful when descending the ladder.
“Had this accident happened when Mr Plotka was ascending the ladder it would have been a different matter,” the judge said.