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Limerick Quarter Sessions: Workmen's Compensation Act Case and Other Disputes | Limerick Gazette Archives

Limerick Quarter Sessions: Workmen’s Compensation Act Case and Other Disputes

At the Quarter Sessions presided over by Judge Adams on Saturday, a case involving Kate Meehan, widow of William Meehan, unfolded. Mrs. Meehan sued the Shannon Fishing Company of Limerick for compensation following her husband’s tragic drowning at the lax weir in Corbelly on February 27th, 1904. Represented by Mr C.F. Doyle, Mrs. Meehan sought to establish liability on the part of the fishing company. Mr Phelps, instructed by Mr Blood-Smyth, represented the defendants.

During the proceedings, Patrick Clear, the weir’s superintendent, testified that the accident occurred while Mr Meehan and three other men were laying down gratings at the weir. Clear stated that he had asked Mr Meehan whether he wanted to use a lighter or a gondola for the removal, to which Mr Meehan had chosen the gondola. Unfortunately, while in the gondola, Mr Meehan lost his balance, causing the grating to shift and resulting in his drowning. Clear affirmed that all the men involved were sober at the time of the incident. He also clarified that the accident could have been prevented if the lighter had been used, absolving Hogan, one of the men in the boat, from any blame.

Edward Hayes, a fisherman, expressed his opinion that a gondola should not have been used for the task. Mr J.A. Place, the manager of the Fishing Company, provided details about the weir’s construction and stated that this was the first such accident to occur. Mr Doyle argued that the claim fell under the section of the Act covering accidents at docks, wharves, or quays. Mr Phelps, on the other hand, presented the deposition of Patrick McMahon, one of the men present in the boat, given at the inquest. According to McMahon, a gondola was a suitable boat for transporting the gratings. Judge Adams reserved judgment on the matter.

In a separate case, John Ryan sought compensation from the Great Southern and Western Railway Company for injuries sustained while working on one of the defendants’ bridges. Mr Gaffney represented Mr Ryan, while Mr Fitt appeared for the defendants. Mr Dodds, on behalf of Mr Fitt, objected to Judge Adams’ jurisdiction, arguing that there was no dispute between the parties as the company was already paying Mr Ryan half wages. Mr Gaffney countered this by stating that his client’s actual earnings amounted to 16s 1d per week, but he was receiving only 7s 5d instead of 8s 0.4d. Mr Dodds read a letter from Mr Gaffney, in which he had agreed to accept 7s 5d per week. Mr Gaffney explained that he had made this agreement in error, unaware that Mr Ryan, in addition to his regular wages, was receiving extras totaling £6 15s per annum. The Royal Exchange Assurance Company had acknowledged that Mr Ryan was entitled to 8s 0.4d per week. Mr Ryan testified that the railway company required him to travel from Oula to Tipperary every week, incurring a cost of 1s, to obtain a doctor’s certificate. Without the certificate, he would not receive his weekly allowance. The extra money earned was paid as expenses when Mr Ryan worked night shifts.

Judge Adams questioned whether expenses should be included in the calculation of compensation. Mr Gaffney argued that his client was paid an additional 1s per night for board, which should be considered part of his earnings.

In delivering his judgment, Judge Adams highlighted that the company, through Hennebery acting as its agent, had informed Mr Ryan that his allowance would not be continued unless he obtained Dr Morrissey’s certificate. However, the proper course of action would have been to provide Mr Ryan with written notice, instructing him to undergo an examination. The company had no right to attach an illegal condition, as it had done, and Mr Ryan was justified in seeking legal advice. Regarding the amount, Judge Adams ruled that expenses should not be counted as earnings since they ceased once employment ceased. After arguments regarding costs, consent was reached granting Mr Ryan 7s 5d per week, along with three guineas in costs.

In another case, Kate Brennan sued Denis Leonard for unpaid wages and damages resulting from an alleged assault. Mr Gaffney represented the plaintiff, while Mr W. Leaby represented the defendant. Ms. Brennan testified that she came from Waterville, which she described as “the farthest back side of Kerry.” The defendant’s wife was accused of verbally abusing, kicking, and evicting her. The defendant’s wife denied the assault and claimed that Ms. Brennan left of her own accord.

Judge Adams remarked that the relationship between Ms. Brennan and the Leonards resembled that of a slave driver and a slave, expressing belief in Ms. Brennan’s claim of being kicked. He awarded a decree for £6 in her favour.

Following the resolution of these and several other cases, the court adjourned.

Limerick Echo – Tuesday 11 October 1904