Woman trapped in lift for 4½ minutes awarded €25,000

Marie Dicker got stuck in lift at Square shopping centre in Tallaght with young son

A woman who was trapped in a lift at the Square shopping centre in Tallaght for just over 4½ minutes has been awarded €25,060 by the High Court.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr awarded costs on the Circuit Court scale with a certificate for one senior counsel for each side.

Marie Dicker (54), a mother of three and department store supervisor, suffered a direct psychiatric injury as a result of the incident which led to the resurfacing of childhood claustrophobia from which she had suffered, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said.

She sued Square Management Ltd and Pickerings Lifts Ltd over the incident at the Square shopping centre, Tallaght, Dublin, on August 31st, 2012.


Ms Dicker, Cherryfield Road, Walkinstown, Dublin, told the court she felt as if she had been trapped for 20 minutes, but a CCTV recording inside the lift showed she was there for four minutes and 35 seconds.

The court heard she was out shopping with her young son when they got into the lift to go down to the ground floor.

Pushed button

When it stopped after moving a short distance, she pushed the button to open the doors but they remained closed.

She said she pressed the alarm bell but nobody responded on the intercom. She banged on the door and shouted but no-one appeared to hear her.

She then rang her husband, who suggested she ring 999. While doing so, a security staff member managed to open the doors and she and her son got out.

She said she was not treated very well at the Square’s customer service desk. She was given lunch vouchers to use in the centre and told she would be contacted, but said she was not.

She also said she was upset and distressed partly due to the fact she had, as a child, suffered from claustrophobia.

Subsequently, she said, she was not able to enter rooms without leaving doors open and could not go into fitting rooms in shops as she could not bear to have doors closed.

In public toilets, she said, she had to prop her handbag against the door rather than lock it for fear it would not open again. She also said she was unable to travel in lifts at all and would have to be near the exit in any room she entered.

Panic attacks

She came under the care of a psychologist who found she still suffered from anxiety, claustrophobia and panic attacks related to the elevator incident. She was also diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, mixed anxiety and depressed mood.

She participated in cognitive behaviour therapy and has responded well to the regime, which is expected to continue for another 12-18 months.

A psychiatrist for the defendants told the court he did not find any symptoms of anxiety when he saw her.

Mr Justice Barr said he was satisfied Ms Dicker suffered a psychiatric injury as a direct result of being trapped in the lift.

“The extent of the injury was somewhat out of the norm, due to the fact the plaintiff had suffered from claustrophobia as a child,” he said.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times