Gust of wind lifted man into air with mattress, giving him back injury

A van driver who claims he hurt his back when a mattress he was delivering was lifted by a gust of wind into the air and carried him for twelve feet before he was thrown to the ground has sued in the High Court.

Declan Homan (54) said he was delivering the four foot six inch mattress to an apartment in the last of sixteen deliveries when he was “caught by a gust of wind.”

He left work with pain three days after the accident and has not had a job since.

His action against his employer includes a claim for €400,000 for loss of earnings to date and into the future.

“It is more than a soft tissue injury. I have a lot of pain and nobody seems to be listening,” he told Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

Mr Homan, a father of four, of Island Lodge, Walsh Island, Co Offaly, has sued Etmar Ltd, with offices at Leixlip, Co Kildare, as a result of the accident on December 13th 2011. One of Mr Homan’s brothers is a director of Etmar, the court heard.

Mr Homan claims he was doing mattress deliveries with another brother in the Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin, when the incident happened.

He claims he fell from a height of five feet about twelve feet away from the truck and alleges failure to provide him with safety equipment such as a safety harness.

He claims he suffered pains to his back immediately and has constant pain made significantly worse by any degree of activity.

The claims are denied.

Mr Homan said he went to work the day after the accident and went to a doctor two days after that.

Cross examined on Tuesday by Bernard McDonagh SC, for Etmar, Mr Homan said it was windy all day and agreed he had no difficulty with the wind during the first fifteen deliveries.

He agreed he had not worked and had been on social welfare since 2011.

When counsel put it to him he had been on a number of holidays, including four holidays in one year and had been to Florida and Tenerife, he said his wife is a sales rep and she paid for the holidays.

He disagreed he was indulging in “gross exaggeration” in relation to his injuries.

Counsel put to Mr Homan that he refused, when asked by a doctor for the defendant during an examination, to touch his toes. He said he told the doctor: “I can’t do that.”

Counsel suggested the mattress incident was not foreseeable by his employer as it was caused by a gust of wind and Mr Homan had not complained it was too windy to do the job.

Mr Homan said there was no point complaining as he would have been told to get on with it.

He agreed his social welfare was withdrawn at one stage because he was declared fit to work but said he appealed the decision and was later deemed unfit to work.

The case continues.

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