Fire officer left with €20k legal bill after 'stupid' decision to force doors at Dunnes
A 57-year-old fire officer was left facing a €20,000 bill for legal costs today after a judge threw out his damages claim against Dunnes Stores.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane warned claimants that they needed to be aware, when bringing legal proceedings, that there could be serious costs consequences if their claim is dismissed.
She made the remark in the Circuit Civil Court after hearing a claim by Christopher Fox, a fire officer with Dublin Airport Authority, of Golf Road, Rush, Co Dublin.
Fox alleged he cut his left ankle when he stepped on a clear plastic display at Dunnes Stores, Rathbeale Road, Swords, Co Dublin, after having forced his way through automatic doors which had been closed because of strong winds.
Barrister Shane English, for Dunnes, said there were two sets of doors, within a short distance of each other, and the store management had put a sign on the doors Mr Fox had opened, warning customers to use the other ones.
Mr English said the doors could not be locked for health and safety reasons and customers had used the other doors without any concern. He said the store could not be held responsible for Mr Fox forcing open the doors, which had been a “stupid” thing to do.
Fox told the court he had been on an errand for his wife before going away for the week-end and had not seen the sign stating “please use the other door.” He had thought the sensor was defective and after he used “minimal force” the doors popped open.
Denying he had been in a rush, he said he did not see the plastic display in the lobby and had stepped on it. He suffered a superficial laceration and swelling to his ankle, which cleared after a few weeks.
He claimed he had to cancel his trip that week-end and had difficulty walking and driving for a short while. He alleged the store should have put tape or a bollard to warn customers the doors were closed.
After hearing an application by Mr English to dismiss the case, Judge Linnane said she was satisfied Mr Fox had not established enough evidence that Dunnes had been negligent.
Dismissing his claim, she said there had been a sign on the doors but Mr Fox had unfortunately decided to force them open. She awarded legal costs against him.