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€20,000 for woman who banged leg on table in restaurant

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Annette O’Connor’s award could have repercussions for the hotel and restaurant industry Picture: Courtpix

Annette O’Connor’s award could have repercussions for the hotel and restaurant industry Picture: Courtpix

Annette O’Connor’s award could have repercussions for the hotel and restaurant industry Picture: Courtpix

A woman who banged her leg against a restaurant table has been awarded €20,000.

The High Court damages award to hairdresser Annette O'Connor (48) could have serious repercussions for hoteliers and restaurateurs.

Ms O'Connor was directed to a table in the Mullingar Park Hotel restaurant by a manager, and when she pulled in her chair she hit her left knee against the table leg.

She claimed that being directed to the table setting right over the leg, which was concealed by a table cloth, constituted "a trap" and negligence on the part of hotel owners Euro Plaza Hotel Limited.

Ms O'Connor, of Santry, Co Dublin, booked a Mother's Day weekend at the hotel with five friends in March 2011.

She had been awarded €18,000 damages at Mullingar Circuit Court by Judge Doirbhile Flanagan whose judgment was appealed to the High Court.

Ms Justice Mary Faherty affirmed the lower court's finding and increased damages to €20,000 and costs.

It was alleged that the hotel had obscured her view of the legs by use of the table cloth, and had failed to warn her of the presence of the metal table leg, and that the setting had been prepared in "a reckless or careless and inattentive manner".

Ms O'Connor claimed she immediately felt pain and shock but had her meal before retiring to her room where hotel staff had brought her an ice pack and a drink to settle her nerves.

When she returned home she had attended her local doctor, the Beaumont Hospital for X-rays and later a specialist in muscle spasm.

The injury had disrupted her personal and professional life as a hairdresser.

A forensic engineer said that if he had been asked pre-accident to risk assess the set-up in the dining room he would not have directed the hotel to warn people about the presence of the table leg under the tablecloth.

But Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said: "You have to inject a bit of common sense into this.

"The problem is that claim on top of all the other claims, drives everybody's insurance through the roof.

"We feel that legislators need to focus in on commercial insurance, and also the judiciary need to wake up to the scenario that the judgments they're giving is totally out of sync with what the rest of Europe is doing."

Irish Independent