26/01/2010 – 17:40:36
A top young Irish cyclist who quit competitive racing following a collision with a French team’s service vehicle during an international event has lost his High Court action for damages.
Today the President of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns dismissed David Geary’s claim against French cycling club Velo Club de Pomme; Frederic Rostaing, a cycling team service driver c/o of Velo Club, La Pomme, Marseilles, France; the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland; and the Irish Cycling Federation.
The Judge said he could not find any evidence of negligence by the defendants. The Judge added that he was also “exonerating the Irish Cycling Federation from any blame,” in the incident.
In his action Mr Geary (aged 27), Ballyhobart, Youghal, Co Cork had claimed, while cycling on the road at Glenmacnas, Co Wicklow on August 12, 2000, he hit his head off the back of the service car’s windscreen and was left with multiple scarring and a back injury.
The accident occurred during a stage of an Under-18 Junior Tour of Ireland race, organised by the ICF, which involved teams from Ireland, France, the UK and Holland. Mr Geary was one of 90 to 100 riders in the event. Mr Geary, who was an Irish underage cycling champion, said he was unable to return to competitive cycling following the accident.
He alleged that during a descent in the Co Wicklow village of Laragh, he collided into the French team’s car, driven by Mr Rostaing.
He claims the car had, without warning, pulled out from a line of team service vehicles and stopped in the middle of the road in front of his bicycle, causing him to collide with it. He was thrown to the ground, sustained injuries and was taken to hospital.
He also claims the ICF race commissaire (chief steward) should have stopped all the cars coming down the hill until all the cyclists had passed.
The ICF, he further alleges, failed to provide a sufficient number of stewards and failed to take appropriate steps against the first two named defendants who, it was alleged, was causing problems during the race.
The defendants had denied the claims. They claimed Mr Geary failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to have any due regard for his own safety.
However in his judgment Mr Justice Kearns said that when he took all the facts into consideration he could not find any breach of duty of care by the defendants in the action.
The Judge said that the any adverse finding against the IFC in this case would have been “very harsh”.
The Judge said from the evidence there were no complaints made about Mr Rostaing’s driving during the race. The Judge said he was also satisfied that Mr Rostaing had followed established protocol for service vehicles during races.
The Judge said that in competitive races “cyclists have to be mindful of dangers” when descending on narrow roads, as was the case in this instance, particularly those posed by service vehicles.
The Judge also stated that it does not necessary follow that there has been negligence when accidents occur involving willing participants in high-risk sports such as boxing or cycling. That was something that should be taken into account by anyone considering taking an action arising out of an injury sustained in a dangerous sport.
The Judge said that there was a lot of truth in the statement that “sports and courts should stay far away from each other”.