A ONE-in-a-million man, who slipped on a baby wet-wipe on the floor of an Argos store, has been awarded €17,500 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.
Judge Jacqueline Linnane heard that of the millions of customers who passed through Argus in the Ilac Shopping Centre, Henry Street, Dublin, in the past seven years, Declan Conroy had been the only one to have had an accident.
Barrister Ciaran Lawlor, counsel for Conroy, told Judge Linnane the store’s cleaning system had either been inadequate, or had broken down, when Mr Conroy fell and injured his left shoulder on May 1, 2008, a year when a million customers had passed through the shop.
Mr Lawlor said the parties had agreed damages at €17,500, inclusive of any suggestion of contributory negligence, and asked the court only to determine liability.
Conroy, of Shelmalier Road, East Wall, Dublin, said he had been queueing in the store to buy a lawnmower for his mother when the accident happened. He had not seen the wet-wipe before stepping on it.
Marita MacCormack, counsel for Argos, said a cctv recording showed the wet-wipe on the floor for just six minutes before Mr Conroy’s fall. She said it was too much to ask that staff almost constantly walk around checking the floor in what was a low-risk store.
Forensic engineer Karl Searson said a higher concentration of cleaning would be required in a queuing area because of extra footfall. A wet-wipe was going to be slippery and needed to be removed quickly.
Store manager Paul McGuinness said he edited an excerpt of the accident from cctv which had also shown a lady push a child buggy through the area five minutes before the wet-wipe appeared on screen.
The cctv had not shown the woman drop the wet-wipe and this part of the video had not been preserved.
Judge Linnane said that if one deduced it was the woman with the buggy who dropped the baby wipe then it had lain on the floor for more than 10 minutes prior to the accident and liability attached to the store.
She awarded Conroy €17,500 agreed damages and costs.