Blaming pub for Ann Summers party injury ludicrous, court told

Woman claims she was shoved when ‘a ring that goes around a certain part of a man’ was thrown

Blaming a pub owner for the alleged injuries of a woman during a rush to grab a spot prize at an Ann Summers sex toy party would fly in the face of common sense, a court has been told.

Sylvia Deehan, (46), of Ballybrack, Dublin, is suing a bar near her home after claiming she was shoved into a speaker when "a ring that goes around a certain part of a man" was thrown in the air.

The toy was up for grabs as part of a ladies night at the Lough Inn pub in Loughlinstown, which climaxed in a performance by the Hunks of Desire male stripper troupe.

On the final day of the case before Dublin's High Court, a safety expert said a ban on spot prizes at such parties — which he said was a custom going back generations — would be the same as banning dancing.

Summing up evidence, defence barrister Joe McGettigan SC, for the pub owners Loughlinstown Inn Ltd, accused mother-of-two Ms Deehan of having two versions of what actually happened on the night, on January 21, 2011.

In her sworn testimony, she said she was bursting balloons on the floor when in full view of at least another 62 women at the party she went to catch the spot prize when she was pushed from behind and hit a speaker next to the disc jockey’s box. She alleges she injured her ribs.

But she told an investigating engineer — who surveyed the premises on her behalf as part of an earlier claim — that she was sitting on a bar stool and jumped from it, said Mr McGettigan.

The two versions were totally and absolutely different, he said.

The barrister argued that the Ann Summers’ representative, along with bar staff, did not see anyone thrown to the floor and Ms Deehan, who has the onus of proof, had failed to put forward a convincing case.

"On the facts of the case it would be ludicrous to find any negligence or breach of duty on the part of the defendant — it would fly in the face of common sense of socialising, as it is known in Ireland, " he said.

But Ms Deehan's lawyer Mark de Blacam SC said DJ David Carraher was uniquely the only witness who was independent and had confirmed her evidence that she was pushed and fell against the speaker.

Former barman Shane Watters was presented by the defence as an independent witness as he no longer worked for the pub, but it later emerged he had two children with the pub owner's daughter, he said.

“This is unfortunately a case where someone is telling lies,” the lawyer said. “I say the lies are being told by the defendant.”

Mr de Blacam demanded aggravated damages for his client because “deliberate falsehoods” were made against her.

“It’s absolutely clear from the plaintiff’s own evidence that she is very, very upset by the fact that lies had been told about her,” he told the court.

Earlier a safety expert Sean Walsh, who carried out inspections of the pub on behalf of Ms Deehan, said it would not be normal to undertake a risk assessment in a pub or hotel ahead of such an event.

And he insisted that such an assessment would not prohibit the throwing of prizes in the air.

“To prohibit the throwing of spot prizes would be a first,” he said. “It’s an activity that has been taking place for generations at parties and events in licensed premises and will probably continue for generations. That’s not to say good order should not prevail.”

Mr Walsh added: “We know that dancing causes lots of accidents. I certainly have never considered prohibiting dancing.”

Ms Deehan appealed her case to the High Court after losing an action in the lower Circuit Court.

A ruling on the case is expected in the coming weeks after Judge Max Barrett said he would reserve his judgment.