Monday 20 November 2017

Hairdresser 'knocked out' after walking into ceiling at popular hotel loses €60k claim

Julie Dowson, of The Green, Frosterley, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England pictured leaving the Four Courts after a Circuit Civil Court action Pic: Collins Courts
Julie Dowson, of The Green, Frosterley, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England pictured leaving the Four Courts after a Circuit Civil Court action Pic: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A woman who walked into the ceiling of her hotel room and knocked herself out, has lost a €60,000 damages claim against the Ashling Hotel in Dublin’s Parkgate Street.

Julie Dowson, of The Green, Frosterley, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England, told the Circuit Civil Court today that when she hit the low slanting ceiling in her room she was knocked unconscious.

Dowson, a hairdresser, said she had visited Dublin in October 2013 to celebrate her daughter’s birthday and had booked into a dormer type room on the top floor of the Ashling.

On October 25, the morning after the family had booked into the hotel, she was preparing to go down for breakfast with her husband and walked towards a bedside locker to lift her handbag.

She told barrister Adrianne Fields, counsel for the hotel, that she had just left the bathroom and was walking towards her handbag when the accident happened.

“I just banged my head and I was knocked out,” Dowson, a part-time hairdresser, told the court. 

She said she had fallen to the floor and after recovering consciousness her husband had been trying to talk to her.

“I was feeling numb and thought I was paralysed.  I remember saying I can’t feel my body.  My whole body was numb and I couldn’t move my head at all,” she said.

She told the court she had been taken by ambulance to the Mater Hospital but had been released that afternoon. 

She had decided to make the best of the family break and had later gone out for walks around Dublin.

Dowson told Ms Fields, who appeared with Newman Solicitors for Foxfields Inns, trading as Best Western Ashling Hotel, that when she returned home she had attended her own doctor and a specialist. 

She had claimed over €5,000 for loss of earnings as a result of her injuries.

She said she had not seen the dormer part of the alcove ceiling which she had walked into as the ceiling was all the same colour. The alcove ceiling was not distinguishable from the rest of the ceiling.

Dowson said that prior to the accident she had suffered from pains in her neck, right arm and in her shoulders but following the accident the pain had become much worse, sometimes excruciating.

Ms Fields said Ms Dowson had not provided the court with any medical reports from her doctors in England that would show evidence of her injuries being directly related to having walked into the ceiling.

Judge Linnane, dismissing Dowson’s claim, said the low clearance of the sloping ceiling in the dormer bedroom was plain to see from photographs provided to the court and she believed Ms Dowson was aware of it.

“They had arrived in the hotel room the previous evening and I believe she was aware of the sloping ceiling and had walked into it because she had not been watching where she was going,” Judge Linnane said.

The judge said the hotel manager had told the court that planning permission for a 1996 refurbishment had insisted on dormer rooms being constructed on the top floor.  

The hotel had a 90 per cent occupancy and in all of that time he had never received a complaint of anyone being injured because of the low ceilings in the 25 dormer bedrooms.

“It seems to me that Ms Dowson wasn’t looking where she was going and possibly was rushing to retrieve her bag as her husband was waiting for her.  That was the cause of the accident and I must dismiss the case,” Judge Linnane said.

Costs were awarded against Dowson.

Online Editors

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