Saturday 15 December 2018

Solicitor to hold part of woman's €20k compo award after supermarket freezer fall pending appeal

The claim related to an incident at the freezer section in Dunnes Photo: Stock image, Flickr.com
The claim related to an incident at the freezer section in Dunnes Photo: Stock image, Flickr.com

Tim Healy

Part of a €20,000 award to shopper who fell into a supermarket freezer after she had to lean in to get frozen vegetables from the bottom is to be held in a solicitor's account pending an appeal over the case, the High Court ruled.

Last month, Circuit Court Judge Gerard Griffin awarded €30,000 to Anne Meaney (70) over the accident in Dunnes Stores, Goldsmith Terrace, Bray, Co Wicklow on February 20, 2016. 

The judge reduced the award by one-third on the basis of contributory negligence by Ms Meaney, of New Ard Chualanna, Bray, Co Wicklow.

The judge also granted a stay on the award, pending appeal, on the basis that €15,000 of it be paid to Ms Meaney within two weeks.

Dunnes lodged their appeal and also sought to vary the terms of the stay in relation to having to pay €15,000.

On Monday in the High Court, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan directed the €15,000 be paid into Ms Meaney's solicitor's account until the outcome of the appeal.  He also hoped the main case would get priority in the appeals list.

In her action, it was claimed Ms Meaney fell forward onto the edge of the freezer and hurt her right lower chest.  

She developed sharp pleuritic type pain that same evening and weekend and attended Loughlinstown A&E two days later, on February 22.  

An x-ray showed no visible fracture but she was treated as having clinically fractured ribs and was prescribed pain killers, it was claimed.

She continued to suffer pain into the following month but by July 25, the pain had greatly improved and she only experienced jabs of pain in certain situations, such as sneezing and coughing.

Her doctor was of the opinion that the residual problem would fade with time and she would not be left with any long term consequences, her statement of claim said.

However, it was claimed, she did suffer significant pain and discomfort, secondary to her injury, and she had a respiratory infection which required antibiotics.

She claimed the injury was the result of negligence by Dunnes including failure to provide a safe means of accessing products, failing to maintain an adequate level of stock in the freezer in order that it did not became a danger or trap, and negligence by requiring her to obtain products when stock was low.

Dunnes denied the claim and argued she was the author of her own misfortune and failed to take reasonable care.  It also said there were members of staff nearby who she could have asked for assistance.

In its appeal, Dunnes says the Circuit Court judge erred in law on the facts of the case in making the €20,000 award.

It claimed, in relation to the requirement to pay €15,000 now, there was no guarantee that the money will be recovered if it wins its appeal.

Ms Meaney's lawyers argued the Circuit Court was correct and had heard all the facts, including expert evidence, in relation to the case.  She opposed varying the stay and also opposes the appeal itself.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News