Spectator hit by ice hockey puck sues Belfast Giants and Odyssey Arena

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Image caption,
The Belfast Giants are being sued for damages

A schoolgirl spectator hit on the head by an ice hockey puck at a Belfast Giants match is seeking a landmark award of up to £30,000 damages.

Lawyers for the teenager told the High Court inadequate barriers were erected to stop her from being injured.

She is claiming negligence in a lawsuit brought against the owners of both the Odyssey Arena and the Belfast Giants.

The girl was 12 when she was hit during a warm-up session before a match at the arena in September 2008.

She is bidding to become the first-ever person in the UK to successfully sue after being struck by a puck going into the crowd at a game.

She sustained a wound above her left eye which required four stitches and left her permanently scarred, the court heard.

In their claim against the Odyssey Trust Company Ltd and the Belfast Giants 2008 Ltd, lawyers for the girl said they failed to carry out a proper risk assessment.

Warnings issued

It was also alleged that allowing multiple pucks to be used in a warm-up session without a referee's supervision was negligent.

Image source, (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption,
The Belfast Giants play their home games at the Odyssey Arena

Counsel for the defendants argued that everything possible was done to ensure spectator safety.

Mr Justice Gillen was told that the arena complied with international ice hockey federation requirements, including the erection of perspex and nets behind goals.

Public warnings are also issued at games, the court heard.

But the girl's lawyer argued that these measures did not go far enough.

He said: "This is a case where there's a recognised high risk that a puck is going to come out and endanger two sections - Odyssey staff or the public."

According to the lawyer it was irrelevant that netting had been put up behind the goals. His client was seated in another part of the arena.

He added: "If there's a situation where there are multiple pucks in play the warning [given] is, if not useless, virtually useless."

Should liability be established the plaintiff is seeking £30,000 in damages.

After hearing all evidence in the case Mr Justice Gillen reserved judgement.

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