Teen loses fight for damages over club toilet injury
Published 25/02/2010 | 05:00
A schoolgirl injured while sharing a loo with a friend at a teenage disco yesterday lost a €38,000 damages claim against a famous rugby club.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane dismissed the claim of Laura Mulvanney, now 19, of Foxrock Mount, Foxrock, Dublin, against Old Wesley Rugby Club in Donnybrook, Dublin.
The judge said Ms Mulvanney, injured when the top of a toilet cistern fell on her leg at a Saturday night disco four years ago, had failed to prove negligence and lack of care on the part of the club.
Barrister Kevin Callan, counsel for Old Wesley, told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday the club alleged the two girls had been engaged in the clandestine consumption of alcohol in the toilet.
Ms Mulvanney, only 15 when the incident happened, said she and a friend, Aideen O'Higgins, went to the toilet together at the teenage disco on September 30, 2006.
Both had been in the same cubicle and she used the toilet first. She did not flush it because she knew Aideen was also going to use it.
When Aideen flushed the loo, the top of the cistern smashed on the floor, cutting her leg.
When asked about two empty alcohol bottles that were found in the cistern following the incident, she said she and her friend knew nothing about them.
She noticed blood pouring down her leg afterwards and a member of staff took her to St Vincent's Hospital, where she received six stitches.
Ms O'Higgins said she was sitting on the loo and the cistern lid came crashing down when she put her hand behind her to flush it. She denied she and Laura had a fight in a first-aid room after the incident.
Both girls also denied drinking in the toilet. They said they each had two drinks before going to the disco.
Toilet attendant Lorraine Hopkins said that she heard the girls giggling in the cubicle. She heard a crash and knocked on the door calling for them to come out. They had then rushed past her.
Ms Hopkins said she saw the smashed cistern lid on the floor and could smell alcohol. She found two bottles of spirits in the cistern.
Old Wesley events manager Donie Bolger said the disco club had a zero-tolerance alcohol policy and that searches were carried out to prevent alcohol being smuggled in.
He said both girls appeared intoxicated in the first-aid room.
Laura had said to Aideen: "You bitch. Why did you do that. I told you to stop messing."
Judge Linnane awarded costs against Ms Mulvanney.
The claim was initially made when she was a minor by her mother, Rachel Mulvanney, and continued by Ms (Laura) Mulvanney after reaching the age of 18 in February last year.