Posted: November 27th, 2019
At the High Court €54,000 has been awarded to a woman in relation to heating oil which spilled from her neighbour’s tank – causing sufficient damage to result in her having to find temporary accomodation for two years.
Ms Davies took the home accident damage compensation against her neighbour Margaret O’Leary. Ms O’Leary was living in a house on a elevated area to the back of Ms Davies’ home. She (Ms O’Leary) denied she was liable for damages as there had been a settlement for the costs of fixing her home and payments for alternative accommodation for Ms Davies and her family.
Mr Justice Meenan dismissed allegations by Ms Davies that Ms O’Leary had lied to to her on purpose when Ms Davies approached her in relation to the oil spillage. The Judge awarded her €54, 204, made up of €12,500 general damages and €41, 704 special damages.
Justice Meenan told those present in Court that, while Ms O’Leary had not been called to take the stand, he was happy that she had acted responsibly when she learned the leak impacted her oil tank. The measures she implemented to address the leak included getting the oil removed promptly and hiring environmental experts to review the damage that was caused.
Ms Davies advised the court the leak occurred early one morning after they had been experiencing a massive amount of rain during January 2013. She said that she went to Ms O’Leary’s and spoke her her via the intercom on her door as she (Ms O’Leary) did not open allow her to come in and said she did not have an oil leak but would get it looked into as soon as she could. After this Ms Davies said she saw men who looked like they were emptying the tank.
When Ms Davies followed up on this with Ms O’Leary she was told that the oil was being removed as a precautionary measure and again stated that there was no oil leak on the tank. Less than ten minutes of this conversation taking place Ms Davies was called by Ms O’Leary’s son Jarlath who also again advised her that “there was no oil leaking and the emptying of the tank was solely precautionary.”
The judge was told that the work to fix the oil damage required the ground floor to be cut up “like a piece of fudge” so the substructure would not be permanently damaged.
Mr Justice Meenan did not allow Ms Davies’ claim for aggravated damages as, he said, there was no basis for having included them in the statement of claim as part of the legal action.