Tuesday 28 March 2017

Veteran of Everest gets €40k for fall on Wicklow Way trail

Teresa Wall pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Courts Collins
Teresa Wall pictured leaving the Four Courts. Photo: Courts Collins

Ray Managh

Hill walker Teresa Wall, who was injured when she fell on a rotting boardwalk on the Wicklow Way, has been awarded €40,000 damages against the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The judgment is expected to have serious repercussions for all of Ireland's national parks.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said Ms Wall had been directed by signs to use the boardwalk which, the court held, was a structure placed on the land by the Parks and Wildlife Service.

The judge said it was clear from photographs produced in evidence that the boardwalk had been made up of second-hand wooden railway sleepers that were badly rotted, with protruding staples loosely holding down chicken wire.

She told barrister David McParland, counsel for Ms Wall, that reasonable care had not been taken to maintain the boardwalk in a safe condition.

This failure was responsible for Ms Linnane's injuries, a gash to her right knee which required seven stitches.

Barrister Kevin D'Arcy, who appeared with Erika Fagan for the State Claims Agency, had earlier told the court that there had been hundreds of falls over the years by walkers in the country's various national parks - many resulting in broken bones.

But he said that Ms Wall's was the first in which the Service had been sued for negligence and breach of duty.

The 59-year-old housewife, of Rathingle Cottages, Swords, told the court she had climbed in the Himalayas and to base camp on Mount Everest and could no longer climb or run marathons. She had been walking for 40 years "all around the world."

Laws

On August 6, 2013 she and her husband had been coming down the mountain after a 20-mile walk when they had "obeyed the laws of the mountain" by following a sign which directed hikers on to the boardwalk.

Judge Linnane said Ms Wall was a very experienced and keen hill walker and very fit. The judge said there had been no contributory negligence on Ms Wall's part.

She awarded Ms Wall €40,000 damages together with her legal costs but granted a stay to facilitate consideration of an appeal to the High Court.

Irish Independent

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