Dunnes Stores worker who dislocated ankle in ladder fall awarded €160,000

Mr Justice Hanna said he found injured woman Gunta Kadege to be an honest person

The High Court has awarded some €160,000 to a Dunnes Stores worker who dislocated her ankle after falling off a ladder while organising supermarket shelves four years ago.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna accepted Gunta Kadege’s evidence that she had reached the second rung of the ladder when it became unstable.

It was contended by Ms Kadege’s side that the ladder in the Leopardstown store was defective and it had moved one way and she went the other and fell off.

Dunnes Stores had disputed Ms Kadege’s version of events and contended she tripped over the ladder as she walked past it.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna said there was also a debate relating to CCTV on the day of the accident and he preferred the view of the plaintiff’s engineer, which underpinned her account of the accident.

Ms Kadege was using a light, domestic ladder and there was a significant wobble which was sufficient to cause the accident. There was no suggestion Ms Kadege was doing anything dangerous, the judge said.

The accident was caused by the frame, which had come loose, and there was no evidence of any inspection or risk assessment in relation to the ladder.

That, the judge said, was the root of the accident and Ms Kadege was using a ladder that was simply not suitable to carry out the task.

Mr Justice Hanna also noted that the medical evidence was that Ms Kadege’s injuries were consistent with a fall from a ladder and he found Ms Kadege to be an honest person.

Gunta Kadege (55) of Butlersgrange, Tullow, Co Carlow had sued her then employer Dunnes Stores over the accident on September 20th, 2018 in which she suffered a fracture dislocation to her ankle.

She had to have surgery and said she was left extremely limited in all recreational and social activities due to her injury. She had moved to another section of the supermarket but later took redundancy from Dunnes Stores.

It was claimed that the ladder used by Ms Kadege was allegedly defective and there was an alleged failure by way of testing or inspection to discover that the ladder was unfit for use.

Dunnes Stores denied all the claims and contended that Ms Kadege had in fact tripped over the ladder.

Mr Justice Hanna said Ms Kadege was doing her job as required and could not be faulted for doing it zealously.

He said she was on the floor for a very prolonged period as they waited for an ambulance and during that time a statement was taken from her and she said she was on the ladder when the accident occurred.

Mr Justice Hanna assessed a total of €120,000 damages and also allowed €40,961 special damages.

Counsel for Dunnes Stores, Hugh Mohan SC, said it intended to appeal and applied for a stay.

Mr Justice Hanna granted a partial stay, providing that one third of the award should be paid out.