Woman settles case over alleged fall on decking at bird expert's home

Kate Ryan (61) sued couple after breaking wrist in Newcastle, Co Wicklow incident

Kate Ryan (61), an airline attendant of Delgany, Co Wicklow  sued  as a result of a slip on split level decking at the home of Eric Dempsey, a heritage specialist and author of several birdwatching books, and his wife Hazel Johnston. Photograph: Collins Courts

Kate Ryan (61), an airline attendant of Delgany, Co Wicklow sued as a result of a slip on split level decking at the home of Eric Dempsey, a heritage specialist and author of several birdwatching books, and his wife Hazel Johnston. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A woman who broke her wrist after allegedly slipping on wet decking while attending a function at the Co Wicklow home of an expert on birds has settled her High Court action.

Kate Ryan (61), an airline attendant, fell when she moved to retrieve her dog after a hen wandered on to the rural property, the court heard.

She was attending a function at the home of Eric Dempsey, a heritage specialist and author of several birdwatching books, and his wife Hazel Johnston when the incident occurred on March 11th, 2017.

Eric Dempsey and Hazel Johnston, of Newcastle, Co Wicklow pictured at the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts
Eric Dempsey and Hazel Johnston, of Newcastle, Co Wicklow pictured at the Four Courts. Photograph: Collins Courts

Ms Ryan, of Crosbeg, Delgany, Co Wicklow, sued the couple, of The Lodge, Sycamore Hill, Tiglin, Barnacoyle Big, Newcastle, as a result of the slip on the property’s split level decking.

She alleged that while going out to the back garden, she fell on what she claimed was a wet decking step and landed heavily on her left side. She suffered a displaced fracture to her left wrist, a twisting of her knee and bruising. She later had to have an operation and had to wear a cast.

Difficulty

Ms Ryan returned to her aircraft work at the end of October 2017 but claimed she had particular difficulty handling trollies and catering equipment and opening or closing heavy aircraft doors.

It was alleged that there was a failure to take any or any adequate effective measures to ensure the decking was safe for those using it. It was further claimed there was a failure to provide an adequate handrail or adequate anti-slip mats. The claims were denied and the defendants pleaded contributory negligence on the part of Ms Ryan and also pleaded the decking was dry.

In evidence, Ms Ryan said she did not trip on the split level decking, a standard softwood deck split into three levels.

“I believe I slipped and fell. I did not trip. I was in massive shock and pain,” she said.

She said she had visited the house about six times previously.

Danny Kelly, an ambulance worker who came to the house, told the court his foot slipped as he got on to the decking, which he said seemed to be damp.

After talks between the parties, Conor Maguire SC, instructed by Liam Moloney, solicitor for Ms Ryan, told Mr Justice Kevin Cross that the case had been settled and could be struck out.

The judge congratulated the parties for settling a “difficult” case.