Man who collapsed after River Liffey speedboat display settles court case for €800,000

Martin Pullen took part in performance by ThunderCat Racing team at Dublin Port Riverfest in 2017

A man who jumped out of a speedboat on the River Liffey up to ten times as part of a series of performances by the ThunderCat Racing team and later collapsed, ending up requiring brain surgery, has settled a High Court action for €800,000.

Martin Pullen took part in up to ten performances by ThunderCat Racing team at the Dublin Port Riverfest Festival on the River Liffey in Dublin on the June bank holiday weekend 2017.

It is claimed he jumped out of a speeding Thundercat boat during the performances before his collapse on the last day of the festival.

ThunderCat Racing is known as one of the world’s most exhilarating watersports, with boats flying up to six metres in the air. It was the first time the boats had been on show in Dublin. They raced four times daily over the weekend.


The court heard liability was in dispute in the case and the defendants also disputed whether Mr Pullen had an acquired brain injury and contended his memory loss was very mild. There was also the issue of whether there was alleged contributory negligence on the part of Mr Pullen.

Mr Pullen’s counsel, Maura McNally SC, instructed by solicitor Pavel Abramov of Brady Kilroy solicitors, told the High Court on Friday that Mr Pullen (34) had been complaining of recurring headaches and ultimately collapsed and vomited on Monday, June 5th, 2017.

He was taken to Beaumont Hospital where an emergency scan showed he had a type of internal head bleed and he had to have an emergency craniotomy.

Counsel said Mr Pullen was in the hospital’s ICU for 23 days and remained under the care of the neurosurgical team at Beaumont Hospital for two months until he could return home to the UK.

Ms McNally said it is their case Mr Pullen suffered an acquired brain injury, left side weakness, short-term memory loss and the sight in his left eye is also affected.

Martin Pullen, now aged 39, from Chertsey, Surrey, in the UK, had sued Voom Voom Ltd with registered offices in Hampshire, England, and ThunderCat Racing Ltd with offices at Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh, England, who it was claimed were the organisers of the ThunderCat racing boat display on the Liffey in June 2017.

The court heard the €800,000 includes damages amounting to €550,000 and legal fees of €250,000 and will be paid out by insurance company Axis Speciality Europe SE of London as, the court heard, the two companies sued have no assets.

It was claimed Mr Pullen was directed to jump out of a speeding ThunderCat boat as part of a demonstration display.

It was further claimed there was a failure to take any necessary measures to ensure the activities in which Mr Pullen was engaged were safe and free from risk of injury

It was also alleged there was a failure to take appropriate measures to ensure he would not be injured at the event.

It was further claimed Mr Pullen was directed to take part in the event when they knew or ought to have known that he did not have adequate training.

Counsel said there was a litigation risk in the case and the claims were denied.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey approved the settlement and noted that had the case run, the litigation risk was very severe. The judge said the offer was fair and reasonable.