Woman sues ESB for damages 14 years after Blessington Lakes fall

ESB denies claims, pleads Alison McCurtain failed to have due regard for her own safety

Alison McCurtin, of Orwell Road, Templeogue, Dublin, leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of her High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

Alison McCurtin, of Orwell Road, Templeogue, Dublin, leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of her High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A woman who claims she severely injured her back after falling some 15ft on to rocks when the ground suddenly “collapsed” under her while walking at Blessington Lakes has sued the ESB for damages.

Alison McCurtin has sued over a fall which happened 14 years ago on the Lacken side of the ESB reservoir at Blessington.

In the High Court, Richard McDonnell SC, for Ms McCurtin, said she was walking with friends on August 26th, 2003 and enjoying the view at Blessington, when all of a sudden the ground under her collapsed and she fell 15ft to the rocks below.

She was rescued from the rocks and taken to hospital, where it was found vertebrae in her lower back were fractured.

She had to wear a back brace for about eight months afterwards. She contends she will never be pain-free and that the incident was foreseeable, he outlined.

Ms McCurtain had expected to return to the workforce when her third child was around seven years of age and as a result has submitted a claim for loss of earnings, he added.

The case, being heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr, continues on Tuesday.

Caused to fall backwards

In her action, Ms McCurtin (38), a mother of three, of Orwell Park Green, Templeogue, Dublin, claims that, as a result of negligence on the part of the ESB, she was caused to fall backwards to the shore below when the ground disappeared from under her.

She alleges a failure to have any adequate warning signs that the undercut shore banks were dangerous, and that walking close to the edges of the banks should be prohibited.

The ESB, it is claimed, allowed her to use the lake shore as a recreational walk when the allegedly undermined banks were a “trap” because they looked solid.

Other claims include failure to monitor, inspect or examine the lake shore for such dangers. A dangerous hazard at a well-known recreational location was created by alleged failure to ensure the area was safe for recreational walking, she claims.

The ESB has denied the claims and pleads Ms McCurtain failed to have any, or any adequate, regard for her own safety. She also failed to take any, or any adequate, precautions for her own safety, it pleads.

The ESB also claims Ms McCurtain failed to heed signs which it claims were close to the area of the incident.

Road traffic incident

In a second case being heard in tandem, Ms McCurtin has sued over an unrelated road traffic incident on October 29th, 2004 at Newline Road, Co Wexford.

That case is against Bill Stafford, Wittyshill, Wellington Bridge, Co Wexford, the driver of a car which, it is alleged, ran into the rear of a car in which she was travelling as a passenger.

She claims the incident exacerbated her injuries from the Blessington one.

The court heard liability is admitted in the traffic case and it is before the court for assessment of damages only.