Gheorghe Pista was awarded €2 million in a negligence case against his employer after being brutally bludgeoned with a hammer while going about his job. Mr. Pista, a clamper originally from Romania, was left with permanent and devastating brain damage and requires round-the-clock assistance with the most basic of daily activities.
In a separate criminal case, Gerard Sweeney pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to ten years by Dublin Circuit Court. The assailant approached Mr. Pista while clamping his girlfriend’s car, screaming that he would not pay the fine. He then produced a sledge-hammer from the car and struck Mr. Pista in the side of the head. Nationwide Controlled Parking, the largest car clamping firm in the country, had allegedly instructed their staff not to remove clamps under any circumstances regardless of threats to their own safety.
It has generally been difficult to hold an employer liable for harm done to their employees by third parties. While the duty of care owed by employers is rarely in doubt, it is for the injured party to establish that their employer failed to provide a sufficient standard of care. Further difficulty arises in proving that an employer ought to have foreseen the violent actions of the third party.
Mr. Pista’s legal team alleged that his employer, Nationwide Controlled Parking Systems, knew or ought to have known that it was dangerous to put Mr. Pista working alone at night. It was alleged that his employer instructed staff not to remove clamping devices under any circumstances without first receiving payment, regardless of threats to their personal safety. Not only did the employer have no system in place to protect Mr. Pista, but it was alleged that their work practices directly placed Mr. Pista in harm’s way and limited his options of escape.
Despite the previously mentioned difficulties in proving an employer is liable for the actions of unknown third parties, an increasing number of companies opt to settle such cases rather than risk their workplace safety systems coming under scrutiny in court.
If you think you have been injured in a workplace incident, please do not hesitate to contact us now.