‘Memory impaired’ prisoner withdraws motorbike claim after judge raises concerns

Paul Brannigan says he was knocked unconscious while a passenger on a motorbike but could not recall identity of driver

A High Court judge has welcomed a decision by an inmate at Mountjoy Prison to withdraw his damages action over serious personal injuries he claims he suffered in a road traffic crash.

The withdrawal of the claim was welcomed by Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds on Thursday afternoon. Earlier, she had raised strong concerns about the continuation of 31-year-old Paul Brannigan’s claim and told the plaintiff to consider his position.

Such was the court’s concern about the evidence being advanced by the plaintiff, the case may have had to be “referred elsewhere” if the hearing progressed, she said.

As well as valuable court time spent hearing the case, which began on Wednesday, taxpayers’ money has also been spent on bringing the plaintiff to court from Mountjoy Prison.


Brannigan, formerly of Balrath, Co Meath, and Ratoath Drive, Finglas, in Dublin, sought damages for injuries he sustained when a motorcycle on which he claimed he was a pillion passenger was in a collision with a car.

He was wearing a helmet at the time of the December 9th, 2013, crash at Broombridge Road in Dublin. He claimed he suffered a compound fracture of his left upper arm, head injuries and a ruptured spleen that required emergency surgery.

He claimed he did not know and could not remember the identity of the driver of the motorcycle on which he was a passenger.

Mr Brannigan claimed he was knocked unconscious following the alleged collision, resulting in his memory of the crash and the identity of the motorcycle driver being substantially impaired.

He sued various parties, including the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) and the driver of the car allegedly involved in the crash.

The MIBI, which is funded by Irish motor insurance companies, was sued as it is the body that compensates victims of uninsured and untraced drivers. It and the other driver’s insurer, FBD, opposed the action and denied it happened as alleged.

They claimed Mr Brannigan was the driver of the motorcycle.

The case opened before Ms Justice Reynolds on Wednesday. However, as the hearing progressed the judge expressed her concerns about the manner in which evidence was being presented to the court, and advised the plaintiff and his lawyers to consider their position.

On Thursday afternoon Mr Brannigan’s counsel, Richard McDonnell SC, told the judge the case has been “resolved” and that his client was withdrawing his claim, and the case could be struck out.

It was further agreed that an order for costs could be made in favour of the MIBI and the driver of the car allegedly involved in the collision Ms Simone Dixon from Cabra.

The MIBI and the car driver, represented by Colm Condon SC and Conor Kearney BL, instructed by Stephen McKenzie & Co Solicitors, opposed the action on grounds including that Mr Brannigan had consciously refused and declined to identify the driver of the motorcycle.

He had also refused to fully co-operate with gardaí in relation to the crash, it was claimed.

The car driver was not negligent and the MIBI was not obliged to compensate Mr Brannigan for the injuries he sustained, it was further argued.

The alleged owner of the motorcycle was also sued for alleged negligence.

Mr Condon told the court his side never dealt with the alleged motorbike owner who, he said, did not participate in the action. The court struck out the claim against him.

In 2018, Brannigan was jailed for the assault of Jason Saunders at Fassaugh Avenue, Cabra, on March 18th, 2014. Mr Saunders was 21 when he died yards from his home after the altercation.

He was sentenced to a prison term of two years and ten months.

At the time of his sentencing, he had already served some 22 months.

Brannigan had denied the manslaughter and two charges of assault causing harm to Mr Saunders.

After a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, a jury convicted him of one charge of assault relating to striking the victim with a golf club.

The assault took place after a St Patrick’s Day house party during which, the court heard, alcohol and drugs, including ecstasy, were consumed.

The jury acquitted him of the other assault arising from Brannigan headbutting Mr Saunders which Brannigan said he did in self-defence.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the manslaughter charge. That was the second time a jury was unable to reach a verdict on that particular charge, and the Director of Public Prosecutions opted not to seek a third trial.

He is serving his current prison sentence in respect of convictions for other offences.