Woman who tripped over own dog at pet store loses High Court damages action

Carole Vickery claimed she broke her leg after tripping on a lip of a doorway at Petzone in Dublin

A woman who tripped over her own dog on a visit to a pet store and groomers has lost her High Court action for damages.

Carole Vickery claimed she broke her leg after tripping on a lip of a doorway but Mr Justice Tony O’Connor found the evidence was that she tripped over her own dog.

Ms Vickery (61), of Adare Drive, Coolock, sued Petzone Ltd, of Coolock Village, and its owner Kieran Stenson over the incident in August 2014 which left her hospitalised.

The defendants denied her claims and said she had tripped over her own dog which she brought into the store’s grooming parlour to have its nails clipped.


On Friday, Mr Justice Tony O’Connor dismissed her claim.

The defendants, whose insurer is FBD, said they would not be seeking costs from Ms Vickery.

The judge found that pharmacist Jennifer Rigney, who said she saw Ms Vickery fall as she tried to avoid stepping on her dog, had provided the most reliable account of what happened.

While he was impressed that Ms Vickery admitted she could not remember all the details and this could be forgiven due to the lapse of time, he was not impressed that she could not remember prior falls. The court heard she had three falls in 2014 and one in 2012 when she told her doctor she also tripped over her dog.

Ms Vickery and her son Adam both maintained the dog had nothing to do with the fall, the judge said.

“Adam Vickery was surprisingly adamant about not letting Goldie (the dog) go before she fell”, he said.

The judge was not finding Adam deliberately concocted details to support his mother’s claim but it was surprising that someone who testified to having knowledge of “the building game” did not take a note of the condition of the step at which he claimed the fall took place.

The court heard engineers for both sides agreed the 33mm lip in the doorway did not present an unusual hazard for most customers. The judge said Adam Vickery claimed it had changed since the incident but there was no evidence that this was so, the judge said.

The judge said the store owner, Mr Stenson, did not himself write down anything about the incident after it happened or provide an incident report but he did have the presence of mind to ask Ms Rigney to provide a note of what she saw.

The court was principally relying on the evidence of Ms Rigney.

Her account was the most reliable of all the evidence as to fact. She was robustly challenged under cross-examination and remained admirably calm and collected in evidence and had no reason to be untruthful, the judge said.

The fact that she was a tenant of Mr Stenson, through her pharmacy, did not elicit any suggestion that she somehow felt compelled to give an account of what happened, he said.

The judge said the only issue that remained was the failure of Mr Stenson to reveal, as part of the pretrial process, the existence of the note provided the day after the incident by Ms Rigney.

That would be dealt with as part of the court’s decision on who should pay the costs in early May. Miriam Reilly SC, for the defendants, said they will not be seeking costs.

The court may, however, have to decide that due to the disclosure failure, the defendants may have to pay some of Ms Vickery’s costs.