Pictured: Dunnes worker awarded €25k after slipping on gravy at deli counter
A 54-year-old catering assistant, who claimed she has ongoing back pain since she slipped and fell on a gravy spillage two years ago, has been awarded more than €25,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court against Dunnes Stores.
Vera Biskupova told the court that on January 13, 2015, she had been cleaning the deli counter at Dunnes Stores, Cornelscourt, Bray Road, Foxrock, Dublin, when she suddenly slipped and fell while.
Biskupova, with an address at Strollers Place, Ballyedmonduff Road, Stepaside, Dublin, but who now lives in Killarney, Co Kerry, said she fell heavily on her back and banged her head off the floor.
She told her barrister, Paul Gallagher, that she managed to get up and noticed that her hair, shoulder and back had been wet. She said the large spillage smelled like gravy. She had not seen it on the floor before falling.
The court heard that she finished her shift that day but had not been able to get out of bed the next day. She had headaches, pain in her head, neck, shoulders and lower back.
Biskupova said she later attended her GP who prescribed her anti-inflammatory medication. She had been out of work for several weeks and had needed to attend physiotherapy sessions.
Mr Gallager, who appeared with Mannion Solicitors, said Ms Biskupova had ongoing intermittent pain in her back. She sued ex-employer Dunnes Stores for negligence, breach of contract and breach of duty.
Biskupova claimed the gravy had leaked from a bin bag. She alleged the bin bags had been unsuitable or unfit for purpose and were likely to allow gravy to leak onto the floor.
She also claimed that Dunnes Stores had failed to have any appropriate system of cleaning and inspection in place to ensure that employees walking in the premises were not put at risk of slipping.
Dunnes had denied all her allegations in a full defence. They claimed that she had been trained “extensively” in relation to health and safety procedures and had not been vigilant that day.
The company alleged that following her accident Biskupova had not mentioned that she had slipped on gravy. They also claimed that she was guilty of contributory negligence.
Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said he was satisfied the system of training had been one of a high standard but he believed that Ms Biskupova’s account of what had happened was correct.
“It is quite an interesting feature that the accident report documentation filled in after Ms Biskupova’s incident has no question as to how or why it happened. That is rather curious,” Judge Groarke said.
“I would expect this question to be in the documentation to make sure that steps are taken so that this type of accident does not occur again,” he said.
Judge Groarke said he could not be blind to the fact that a witness to the accident who was present in court today had not been called by Dunnes Stores to give evidence.
He said the person who spilled the gravy must have been aware of it and decided not to follow the company’s cleaning protocol.
Awarding Biskupova €25, 234 damages, the judge said the place of work had been unsafe. He said she could not be expected to be constantly looking at the floor and he therefore could not find any contributory negligence against her.