Bar worker who slipped in pigeon droppings at Heuston station awarded €25k
A 25-year-old bar assistant who slipped on pigeon poo at the open air restaurant in which she worked at Dublin’s Heuston Rail Station, has been awarded almost €25,000 damages against CIE.
Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, heard that Leann Walsh tended table on the decking outside the Heuston Station Refreshment Rooms and would often have to shoo away pigeons.
Barrister Karl Finnegan, counsel for Walsh, told the Circuit Civil Court she had been working outdoors on May 15, 2013 when she stepped on pigeon poo and her right leg went from under her.
Mr Finnegan, who appeared with solicitors Coughlan White and Partners, said she had fallen sideways on her knees and back, suffering soft tissue injuries to her ankle, knees and lower back.
Gerry Ryan, counsel for CIE, told the court the Irish Rail Company had entered a full defence. Barrister Sarah Corcoran, for the Heuston Refreshment Rooms, of West Pier, Howth, said her client had also denied liability.
Ms Corcoran, who appeared with solicitors Coffey and Associates, told the court that the problem of pigeons was a serious one for her client who had asked CIE to deal with the matter.
Judge Groarke, awarding Walsh, of Merrion Court, Blackhall Street, Dublin, €22,500 damages with special damages of €2,148 said he would grant judgment against both defendants but would make an order over in favour of the restaurant against CIE.
The judge said what had been described to the court was a visitation by a number of pigeons calling to Heuston Refreshment Rooms outside restaurant area on at least six or seven times a day.
“Unbeknownst to Ms Walsh one of the pigeons had left a deposit on the floor on which she slipped and fell,” he said. Ms Walsh had just left the decking area for a matter of seconds and had fallen on her return.
Judge Groarke said that with the comings and goings and deposits of pigeons the area was not a safe place of work for Ms Walsh who had to serve customers at tables as well as clean up the area.
He believed that an accident of the type before the court was foreseeable despite the fact that there had been no evidence of a similar ship in the 19 years during which Heuston Refreshment Rooms ran the restaurant.
“The first and second defendants were both very well aware that there was a very serious problem with pigeons coming into the building and the only work that seemed to have been undertaken was of a type to make life uncomfortable for pigeons in the building,” he said.
Among the work carried out was the placing of spikes, fire gel, a hawk on a pole with which the pigeons became very acquainted and humane traps. No perm anent solution had been found to the problem.
“CIE well knew there was a problem and no risk assessment was carried out on what the consequences might be. There is an obligation on the defendants to deal with the issue and to provide a safe place of work for the plaintiff,” Judge Groarke said.
He said Ms Walsh and the restaurant did all they reasonably could in order to keep the premises clean and clean up after the pigeons. The restaurant had tried to get CIE to deal with the problem but CIE had decided not to take appropriate steps.