A judge has dismissed a €60,000 personal injury action by a 79-year-old farmer who “suffered horrible injuries” when attacked and knocked out by a cow at a mart four years ago.
At Ennis Circuit Court, farmer Noel Broggy told the court that he was flattened and knocked out when attacked by a “mad cow” at Sixmilebridge Mart, Co Clare, on 6 May, 2017.
Mr Broggy was attacked while retrieving an unsold cow and calf of his from a pen at the mart, where there were five or six other cattle also present.
Farming since he was aged 14, Mr Broggy said that he was “lying in a pool of blood’ on the ground after he suffered a head wound that required 13 stitches after the cow attack.
Giving evidence in his personal injury action against Sixmilebridge Co-Operative Mart Ltd, Mr Broggy told the court: “This cow went for me - I didn’t know she was a mad cow, I knew nothing about the cow.”
He said: “She hit me in the stomach. I was knocked out unconscious.”
He told the court: “I got a fair rattling off the ground. I was lucky enough that she flattened me where I was - that is what saved me.”
Mr Broggy added: “If she brought me over to the bars, my neck and my back could have been broken.”
Mr Broggy’s son, Donal Thomas, immediately came to his father’s aid and told the court that he ran at the cow and struck her head with his hip.
I thought he was dead. His hands were still in the air. There was no breathing
Donal Thomas Broggy told the court that he ran against the 700kg animal after he saw her “butting my father with her head.
“I thought he was dead. His hands were still in the air. There was no breathing.”
Donal Thomas Broggy told the court that the cow who attacked his father then left the pen with the other animals through an open gate.
Donal Thomas Broggy told the court that he grabbed his father and held him and told him that ‘he would be alright and he would be grand’.
The witness said that his father came around after being put on a chair and an ambulance took him to University Hospital Limerick, where he remained for one night and two days.
Turning 80 next month, Noel Broggy said with the vertigo brought on by the attack he is not able to tie his shoelaces or wash his hair.
He said that he had the vertigo for three and a half years after the attack.
Mr Broggy’s claim also stated that as a result of the attack, he wasn't able to jive or dance.
The farmer, who owns 60 suckler cattle, told the court: “Only for my son I would have to sell the cattle to be honest with you.”
Noel Broggy’s personal injury action against the mart firm was based on his contention that there was a fractious cow in an isolation pen and she was let through by the mart with the other animals into the pen where he was attacked.
Noel Broggy, represented by David O’Regan BL and instructed by Sharon Curley of Carmody and Co Solicitors, told the court that the fractious cow “was in the isolation pen and they [the mart] should have put her back in the isolation pen and not mixed her with my cow and calf”.
Sean Ryan, then manager of the Sixmilebridge Mart, denied this, telling the court that there was no fractious cow in an isolation pen and if any cow is identified as fractious, the farmer is asked to take her home before they even enter the mart.
Mr Ryan said that the only animals placed in an isolation pen are those who are not compliant with Department of Agriculture regulations.
Judge Brian O’Callaghan dismissed Mr Broggy’s case, stating there was a lack of evidence linking what may have been a fractious cow to the cow that attacked Mr Broggy.
Judge O’Callaghan said no direct evidence was provided concerning the identity of the cow that attacked Mr Broggy. He said: “No one has said that the fractious cow is the same animal who attacked Mr Broggy.”
Judge O’Callaghan said that Noel Broggy suffered “horrible injuries” and “gave the most honest and clear-cut evidence”.
However, the judge stated that the mart cannot be held responsible for “the odd beast” who would surprise every one with a bad turn, unless there is a breach of duty by the mart.
The judge said there was no breach of duty by the mart as there was no evidence that the system at the mart was bad at controlling access to animals.
Judge O’Callaghan said that, even if he did find against the mart over permitting Mr Broggy into the pen, he found Mr Broggy at least 75% responsible and dismissed the action on that point.
Sean Ryan, the former mart manager, told the court that the Sixmilebridge Mart is very successful.
Only recently retired after 10 years in the role, Mr Ryan told Judge O’Callaghan: “We are responsible in the mart and we run a responsible mart. We have a very good safety record at Sixmilebridge Mart.”
Mr Ryan also stated that there was no pool of blood found in the pen after the May 2017 incident.
Judge O’Callaghan made no order in relation to the costs of the case, meaning that Noel Broggy doesn't have to pay the mart’s legal costs after losing the action.