Woman awarded almost €18,000 in damages after fall in Dublin nightclub
Rita Walsh fell off single step in "pitch dark"
Published 25/06/2014 | 12:20
Things went “pitch dark” when the dancing finished in a Dublin nightclub as a 64-year-old carer and her four daughters left a birthday bash for one of them, a court has heard.
Rita Walsh, who fell off a single step as she made her way to the toilet at the end of the night, was awarded almost €18,000 damages against White Bay Limited which trades as The Abberley Court Hotel, Tallaght, Co Dublin.
John P. Kehoe, counsel for Ms Walsh, of Allenton Crescent, Ballycragh, Tallaght, said she had tripped in the darkness of the Level 4 Niteclub at The Abberley.
Ms Walsh, and her daughters Sharon, Yvonne, Linda and Grace, told the Circuit Civil Court they had dinner in a local Chinese restaurant before going to Level 4 where, they said, the lights had been switched off when the DJ stopped playing music.
She told Judge Alan Mahon that patrons were being ushered out in near darkness and she had not seen an allegedly dimly illuminated step on her way to the toilet. She had fallen and injured her left shoulder.
Judge Mahon said forensic engineer Conor Murphy had been critical of the lighting being sufficient to illuminate or identify clearly the step on the way to the toilet.
He said Mr Murphy’s evidence had been that recessed lighting on the face of the step only assisted in identifying it when approaching in the opposite direction of travel to which Ms Walsh was walking at the time.
The judge told Mr Kehoe, who appeared with solicitor Romaine Scally, that this seemed to be the case insofar as the lights on the face of the particular step was concerned.
Warning that particular care ought to be taken in illuminating the face of steps, Judge Mahon said that while the atmospheric lighting in the nightclub was low as patrons left at 2 a.m. on April 4, 2010, he would not accept it was pitch dark, as alleged, in the club.
Neither would he accept management evidence that brighter lights had been switched on to facilitate patrons leaving at the time. They had probably been switched on after Ms Walsh’s fall.
The judge said many people leaving a nightclub would have alcohol on board but Ms Walsh’s evidence was that she had only three beers and he accepted she was certainly not intoxicated in any way.
He said an aluminium strip on the step concerned was visible to some extent and Ms Walsh had contributed by a factor of 20pc to her own downfall and reduced an overall award of €22,000 to €17,600.