FATHER-of-four, William Nash (43) died after allegedly drinking 18 brandies in a competition with a friend in a pub.
Yesterday, his family settled a High Court action against the pub owner for €100,000.
Builders' labourer William Nash (43) was with a friend when he allegedly imbibed the shots of brandy at The White Horse Inn, Main Street, Mountrath, Co Laois. Mr Nash's friend was the first to fall down, a lawyer told the High Court, and Mr Nash fell down then and died later that evening in hospital.
The men, said Declan Doyle, SC, had gone for a few drinks after work on August 28, 1999 and started a drinking competition about who could down the most brandy after drinking a few pint of beer.
Noting the settlement and approving the payment in court of €15,000 for Mr Nash's youngest son, Kelvin (11), Justice Philip O'Sullivan expressed his deep sympathy to the Nash family "in this particularly tragic case".
Mr Nash's widow, Diane, of Kennedy Park, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, had sued Anne Fitzpatrick, the owner of the The White Horse Inn.
It was claimed that Mr Nash, with the alleged knowledge and implied consent of Anne Fitzpatrick, then engaged in a competition to see who could drink the most brandy.
It was alleged Mr Nash and his colleague were served about 18 brandies each within the space of 90 minutes.
It was alleged that at 5.l5pm on August 28, 1999, Mr Nash's colleague collapsed and that shortly afterwards Mr Nash became ill. Both were taken to Portlaoise Hospital, where Mr Nash was pronounced dead at 6.35pm. Mr Nash, it was alleged, died from aspiration of vomit due to alcohol intoxication.
Mrs Nash claimed that the pub owner was negligent in serving and continuing to serve alcohol to Mr Nash to the extent which they knew, or ought to have known, would cause serious damage to his health and render probable his death.
It was also alleged the pub owner was negligent in failing to intervene in the drinking competition.
Mr Nash, it was claimed, was a loving husband and father and his wife and children had all suffered great mental distress as a result of his untimely death.
Ms Fitzpatrick denied Mr Nash was served 18 brandies in 90 minutes, or at all. It was also denied that Mr Nash, with the alleged knowledge or implied consent of Ms Fitzpatrick, engaged in a competition to determine who could drink the most brandy.
Counsel for Mrs Nash, Declan Doyle, told the court that the case had been settled out of court for €100,000 and costs.
Mr Doyle said the action against the pub was quite an unusual one and, if it had proceeded, would have been a test case in the jurisdiction.
Mr Justice O'Sullivan said it was clearly a high-risk form of litigation and a first for the country.
If it had gone ahead and if Mrs Nash had succeeded in the action, there would have had to be a finding of a very high degree of contributory negligence, the judge said. "
This kind of thing bugs the absolute crap out of me, it really does. Leaving aside the pain and grief the loss to the family must be, William Nash was the rider on a horse called Stupidity.
He was 43, not18 or 21. He was a grown man with a family of four, he was not mentally hadicapped in any way shape of form. Ergo we have to suppose he might have known that drnking 18 brandies in 90 minutes after consuming pints of beer could have a dangerous or possibly fatal effect on his person.
Right, in this case the pub probably should have called a halt to the stupidity too, but really, if a 43 year old man wants to drink himself into a grave, is it their job to stop him?
Would we be reading this today if Nash had gone on a pub crawl? Drinking one or two brandies per bar? Who would have been responsible then? All the pubs? The last one? The one before that?
There is no accounting for the stupidity of folk, and I include myself in that sweep of the tar brush. WE all do daft things from time to time, but really, in this sodding day and age, it's getting to the point when it's NEVER our own fault.
I"m going to start looking into setting up an agency where folk who might do something stupid can hire somebody per day to wag a finger at them and say 'ah aah ah!" Because clearly that is what is required. I mean, that way we can always blame someone else when we go right ahead and act like an idiot-despite warnings.
I'm going to call it CULPA.