Monday 22 January 2018

Kitchen assistant who suffered severe back injury after slipping on wet leaves awarded almost €26,000

Ann Groves, of Chapel Hill, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday Pic: Collins Courts
Ann Groves, of Chapel Hill, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow, pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday Pic: Collins Courts

Saurya Cherfi

A 58-year-old hospital kitchen assistant, who will need to wear a spinal cord stimulator for the rest of her life after she slipped on wet leaves outside her workplace, has been awarded almost €26,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court against the HSE.

Ann Groves told the court that in the morning of November 19, 2012 she was walking towards the back entrance of the Baltinglass Hospital in Co Wicklow when she slipped on an accumulation of wet leaves.

The court heard that Ms Groves’ incident happened on a Monday morning, after a particularly stormy weekend.

She told her barrister, Matthew Jolley, that she caught herself from falling by using a nearby wall as a support.  She had suffered immediate pain in her left ankle and foot.

Ms Groves, of Chapel Hill, Baltinglass Hill, Co Wicklow, said she managed to enter the hospital and was given an ice pack by a staff member, before her partner, Jim, later took her home. 

The court heard that as they were driving out of the hospital, Ms Groves noticed the leaves had been removed.

Judge Barry Hickson heard that Ms Groves later went to her GP.  She had suffered a soft tissue injury to her ankle, which was strapped.  Ms Groves had attended several specialists since the incident to try to resolve ongoing pain in her ankle. 

The court heard she had attended multiple physiotherapy and acupuncture sessions and had needed to wear a cast for several weeks. 

Ms Groves said she underwent surgery in 2014, where a spinal cord stimulator was inserted in her back, to manage her ankle pain.  She said her pain had improved but she would have to wear the stimulator for the rest of her life.

Mr Jolley, who appeared with Bowler Geraghty & Co solicitors, said Ms Groves had difficulty sleeping, walking and standing, and had been out of work for several weeks.  Her social life had also been affected. 

The HSE had denied liability for Ms Groves’ incident.  It claimed it had a safe cleaning system in place and alleged in their defence that Ms Groves was guilty of contributory negligence.

Judge Hickson, hearing that a maintenance employee at the hospital, who was working Monday to Friday after the kitchen workers started their shift, said Ms Groves and the other staff members who start early in the morning were entitled to have a safe means of access to their workplace. 

The judge, awarding her €25,879 damages.

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