Woman who claimed aerosol dry shampoo became ‘flame-thrower’ settles case

Sam Clarke Kavanagh took action against nightclub ex-owners after flames hit her hair

Sam Clarke Kavanagh of Sandymount Road, Sandymount, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts  after the settlement of her High Court action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts

Sam Clarke Kavanagh of Sandymount Road, Sandymount, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after the settlement of her High Court action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A woman who claimed an aerosol dry shampoo turned into “a flame-thrower” when she sprayed it in a nightclub bathroom has settled her High Court action on terms including undisclosed damages.

Sam Clarke Kavanagh said the flames hit her hair and she had to throw the aerosol down the toilet, where flames continued to emit from the can.

She had sued the then owners of the Bronze bar and nightclub, on Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, over the incident in late 2015. The bar and nightclub has changed ownership since, the court heard.

Ms Clarke Kavanagh, a nurse of Sandymount Road, Sandymount, suffered burns to her right hand and face and singed her hair, eye lashes and eyebrows. She claimed the aerosol of dry shampoo was among toiletries in a box in the club bathroom, that a naked flame candle was in the area and that the aerosol spray ignited.

The defence denied liability, pleaded the aerosol dry shampoo was not supplied by them and could have been left there by another patron, and also pleaded contributory negligence.

On Friday, the second day of the action, Ivan Daly BL told the court the case had been compromised for an agreed sum of damages and costs and also asked the court to note there was no claim for loss of earnings. Judge David Keane said he was glad the case was resolved and he wished both sides well for the future.

When opening the case, Michael Byrne SC, for Ms Clarke Kavanagh, said it involved a “very terrifying” incident. He said a selfie taken before the incident showed Ms Clarke Kavanagh had a small handbag with her not big enough to hold a lipstick, never mind an aerosol spray.

He said she was out of work for seven weeks after the incident.

Birthday celebration

In evidence, the plaintiff said she went to the nightclub with a friend on December 4th, 2015, to attend a birthday celebration.

When they got there about 11pm, they ordered drinks and then went to the toilets. She said she does not carry dry shampoo with her, and thus made a “beeline” for the toiletries products and sprayed the dry shampoo.

“It very quickly became a flame-thrower. I stupidly tried to blow it out and it hit my hair. The flame continued to come out. I threw it down the toilet and the flames were still going on,” she said. She said the fire alarm went off. Under cross-examination by Colm Condon SC, for the defence, she said she did not believe it was a case where another patron left the dry shampoo behind.

Ms Clarke Kavanagh (27) had sued Hilda and Jon Conway, of Claremont Road, Sandymount, Dublin, the owners at the time of the Bronze bar and nightclub, over the incident. She claimed the bathroom facilities were rendered hazardous and unsafe because of the presence of naked flame candles and highly flammable aerosol cosmetic products in close proximity.

Injuries sustained to the right hand of Sam Clarke Kavanagh. Photograph: Collins Courts
Injuries sustained to the right hand of Sam Clarke Kavanagh. Photograph: Collins Courts

The claims were denied and it was contended by the defence that the defendants did not supply the aerosol spray. It also pleaded contributory negligence on the part of the nurse in using the aerosol spray near a candle and claimed she was the author of her own misfortune.