Sunday 22 October 2017

Woman unlucky but club not to blame for fall, says judge

Ciara O’Connell outside court in Dublin.
Ciara O’Connell outside court in Dublin.

Tim Healy

A WOMAN has lost an action for damages over claims she injured her arm after a man fell on top of her while they were dancing at well-known Dublin nightclub Copper Face Jacks.

Ciara O'Connell (33), a sales representative, was dancing backwards to a Shakira song with a male work colleague, Noel Humphries, when the incident happened at the Harcourt Street venue on August 4, 2006.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan said this was an "unfortunate" accident but he could not find Ms O'Connell's injuries could be attributed to a slippery floor and he therefore could not find the nightclub was negligent.

Ms O'Connell (33), of Glenview Park, Tallaght, Dublin, fractured her arm and was out of work for three months after the accident.

Ms O'Connell and Mr Humphries were engaged in modern dancing "of the kind that takes place in night clubs and which is not easy to describe in terms that make sense", the judge said.

The nightclub described it as "dirty dancing" after the film, he noted.

While the floor of the nightclub was under the defendant's control, the dancing activity of Ms O'Connell and Mr Humphries was not and it was possible the accident could have happened without a slippery floor or a dangerous site, he said.

Ms O'Connell and Mr Humphries were dancing backwards in close proximity in a situation that carried the risk either of them would miss a step or lose their footing and that could happen relatively easily.

The accident was unfortunate and Ms O'Connell was unlucky to have suffered an injury but that was "just the combination of circumstances that meant Mr Humphries fell on top of her, which precipitated the heavy fall resulting in her sustaining the injury".

The judge said there was some evidence part of the floor was wet and there was video camera evidence indicating some of the nightclub patrons were drinking while dancing. Spillages were also possible as people carried drinks from the bar.

ISSUE

While satisfied the floor on which Ms O'Connell was lying was wet, it did not follow the floor area where Mr Humphries fell was wet, he said.

The issue was not if the floor was wet but if it was slippery.

In Ms O'Connell's action against Breanagh Catering Ltd, trading as Copper Face Jacks, she claimed Mr Humphries slipped on the floor, which she claimed was wet, and fell on to her causing her to fall to the ground.

The defendant denied liability and also claimed Ms O'Connell was engaged in dangerous and reckless dancing with Mr Humphries.

The judge dismissed the case and awarded costs against Ms O'Connell to the nightclub but directed it to pay Mr Humphries legal costs arising from it having brought him in to the case.

Irish Independent

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