Shop assistant who fell from step-ladder loses case against Dunnes

Woman claimed the step-ladder gave way while she was ‘facing out’ whiskey bottles on a top shelf in the off-licence aisle

Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

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A supermarket sales assistant who fell off the second step of a step-ladder has lost her High Court action for damages against Dunnes Stores. Jean Falsey was working in the St Kieran’s Street branch of the store in Kilkenny city when the accident occurred on June 27th 2014.

She claimed the step ladder gave way under her while she was “facing out” whiskey bottles on a top shelf in the off-licence aisle. She said she fell heavily on her shoulder, required treatment, including physiotherapy, and continues to suffer. She claimed Dunnes was negligent in providing a defective ladder.

Dunnes denied the claims.

Dismissing her action, Mr Justice David Keane said, on the balance of probabilities, the proximate cause of the accident was that she missed a step when descending the ladder.

He said this seemed to accord most closely to what was evident in CCTV footage of the incident. He also found Ms Falsey did receive proper training the use of step ladders. Ms Falsey put herself at risk in the manner in which she used the step-ladder and there was no failure to properly supervise, he ruled. The judge also did not accept there was any material defect in the ladder, which comprised two steps below a top platform surmounted by a handrail.

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