Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mother (56) sues council after house ceiling 'fell on top of her'

Janette Lakes
Janette Lakes

Tim Healy

A woman who claims she was injured when a ceiling in her council house fell on her has sued in the High Court.

Janette Lakes was walking from her kitchen to her sitting room with two cups of tea in her home in Blanchardstown when the ceiling "came bursting in on me".

"It all came in on top of me. My son who was there said a corner of the ceiling must have hit me on the head," she told Mr Justice Michael Hanna.

"My clothes were soaked, the cups were smashed. I couldn't get up from the floor. I was covered in plaster. I was in a puddle of water."

Within weeks, she claims she was suffering from headaches and later had blackouts.

However, Fingal County Council's lawyer, Thomas P Hogan, put it to Ms Lakes that in photos taken by her son after the ceiling collapse, the floor was "as dry as a bone".

The mother-of-six replied that it was not dry when the ceiling came down. Asked by Mr Hogan where the water went, Ms Lakes said: "I don't know."

She added that the ceiling was damaged over years by the council not fixing leaks.

Mr Justice Hanna remarked that in the photos the floor did not look wet. Ms Lakes replied: "I'm not saying it was soaking."

Ms Lakes, a 56-year-old recovering drug addict who takes methadone and lives at Dromheath Avenue, Blanchardstown, has sued the council over the incident from May 15, 2008.

She claims there was a failure to properly repair the premises and there was leaking in the toilet upstairs.

As a result, Ms Lakes has claimed, she suffered from post traumatic headaches, concussion with forgetfulness and also has difficulty concentrating.

The council denies the claims and contends that there was contributory negligence on the part of Ms Lakes and a failure on her part to take any or proper care of the premises.

Ms Lakes, who has lived in the house since 2004, told the court she had complained of a damp patch on the ceiling below the upstairs toilet and bathroom which she said leaked.

She said she never should have instigated legal proceedings as she claimed the council "did nothing for me after that".

She added that she had written a letter outlining her concern about the ceiling and cleared her rent arrears but claimed it was not fixed.

At one stage of the hearing, she offered to show the judge and the court the condition of her home.

The case continues.

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