In Cork City, Ireland, a man sat on a bollard only to find himself flat on his back as the steel post disappeared into the ground without any warning. Harry Peglar has just received €7,500 from Cork City Council as a result of his injuries.
Peglar had been sitting on a center bollard at the intersection of Maylor St. and St. Patrick St. in Cork City. He was taking a rest during a shopping trip, waiting for his son to arrive. Normally, bollards, which are steel posts mounted next to roads and parking lots that work to control or direct traffic, are programmed to go up and down depending on the time of day. These retractable bollards were scheduled to go up at 11am and come down at 5pm in order to pedestrianize the area.
When asked by his counsel, Donal Ryan, regarding whether there was any warning that the bollard would be sinking, Peglar replied, “No, it just sunk into the ground.” In addition to his injuries, he also said he was “ashamed of my life” when three girls saw him fall and were giggling as he lay flat on his back.
According to Frank White, a local engineer, there is an inherent hazard in the design of the bollards — they have a loud alarm announcing when they rise, but no sound indicating when they will go down. The current bollards have been in place since 2005, and this is the first reported incident of its kind. Ian Winning, an engineer for Cork City Council, agreed that this was the case, and that a bollard could retract rather suddenly, but argued that “it was an unusual occurrence that someone would sit on a bollard.”
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin, in the decision, said that, “There was no warning that he should not have sat on it, or the likelihood of it retracting if he did so. Negligence is established against the corporation.” Hence, the plaintiff was awarded €7,500.