Woman awarded €83,000 damages after slipping and falling in Dunnes Stores

Arising out of fall, woman had to undergo knee replacement surgery, court told

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The High Court has awarded €83,000 damages to a woman who slipped, fell and injured her knees in a Dublin branch of Dunnes Stores.

The award was made to Doris Whelan who sued Dunnes Stores for injuries after she fell at the retail chain’s outlet at Ashleaf Shopping Centre, Walkinstown, Dublin, on June 27th, 2013.

In his judgment on Tuesday, Mr Justice Michael Hanna said he was satisfied Ms Whelan had fallen due to a small amount of an oil-like substance being on the floor of the supermarket and was entitled to damages.

During a four-day hearing, Ms Whelan (58), Newtown Lane, Newtown, the Commons, Nurney, Co Kildare, represented by Finbarr Fox SC and Colm Condon SC, claimed Dunnes was negligent in allowing the floor to be slippy, and in a hazardous condition, resulting in her trip and fall.

Arising out of her fall, the former sales assistant said she suffered significant soft tissue injuries to her knees which over a period of time severely affected her ability to walk and stand and she had to undergo knee replacement surgery.

Dunnes denied liability and pleaded she had contributed to her injuries by failing to look where she was going.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Hanna said, from the evidence before the court, including CCTV pictures, he had no doubt Ms Whelan had slipped and fallen on her knees while she was wearing flat shoes. He accepted evidence she had slipped on a small amount of an oil-like substance, which came from a stock trolley used to stock shelves in the supermarket. The defence had not produced any evidence to counter that claim, he said.

He was also surprised that a person employed to clean the store, and who was present at the time of the accident, did not give evidence in the case. That person was scheduled to give evidence regarding the scene of the accident but did not do because the defendant could not locate the individual, he said.

He also found Ms Whelan had not overstated nor embellished her injuries nor details of her fall to the court. Before the accident, Ms Whelan had no prior history of knee problems and she had undergone knee replacement surgery many years before she would ordinarily require it, he said.

Based on his findings, he awarded total damages of €83,250 but placed a stay on the award, provided an interim payment of €40,000 is made to Mrs Whelan, in the event of an appeal.