Zumba dance teacher did not try to mislead court, says judge

Woman shown on Facebook leading vigorous classes after injuring back in car accident

A Zumba dance instructor, who told a court she still had intermittent lower back pain two years after a minor road traffic accident on a roundabout, was depicted on Facebook leading vigorous and energetic dance classes after the accident.

Conor Kearney, counsel for Axa Insurance and one of its insured customers, said accountant Victoria Paiva was telling the Circuit Civil Court she had significant injuries, was unable to move properly, had to get her children to help with housework and still had pain, while at the same time running Zumba classes.

Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke rejected the suggestion she had lied about her injuries and said he was not convinced she had tried to mislead the court.

Ms Paiva, a Ukraine national who lives at Fortlawn Park, Blanchardstown, Co Dublin, had sued Daytona Heavy Haulage Limited and its driver Shane Pearson for €60,000 damages for personal injuries caused by a Daytona articulated truck striking the side of her car.

Awarding her €7,500 damages, Judge Groarke said Ms Paiva had attended a doctor in October 2016 only a few weeks after she had participated in energetic and strenuous Zumba sessions.

Physical reaching

Judge Groarke said that following that visit the doctor had recorded her physical reaching as moderately affected; lifting and carrying moderately affected; minor restrictions on her bending and squatting, and her sitting severely affected.

“I have difficulty in seeing how a person who had been Zumba dancing only a few weeks before that medical examination can be the same person as described in the medical report,” Judge Groarke said.

The judge told barrister Alastair Rutherdale, who appeared with McKeever Solicitors for Ms Paiva, that he accepted her evidence that she had been stopped on a roundabout near Blanchardstown Shopping Centre when the articulated lorry struck her car.

He said it had been a relatively modest impact between the two vehicles and, while Ms Paiva was not responsible, there had been considerable confusion regarding the degree of injuries claimed by the plaintiff. There was significant conflict between her evidence and what he had seen on video of her “most energetic and strenuous” dancing activities.

Judge Groarke agreed with Mr Kearney, who appeared with Delahunty O’Connor solicitors, that she had been videoed dancing extremely vigorously and energetically at times of complaining of acute low back pain, but felt she had not deliberately set out to mislead the court.

Ms Paiva told the court that on some of the occasions she had been videoed she had been assisted by or had been assisting other dance leaders in Zumba classes.