Monday 28 May 2018

Waitress awarded €500,000 for hand injury suffered after glass jug shattered

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Tim Healy

A HOTEL waitress has been awarded €500,000 for an injury to her hand when a glass jug she was filling shattered.

Sophie Caillaud (42) had suffered a very significant injury which had altered her life, a judge said.

The French woman was working as a waitress in the luxury Lough Rynn Hotel in Leitrim in December 2007 when she sustained a deep laceration to her right thumb which bled profusely.  She later had to have an operation and wear a splint.

The award includes a sum of €195,000 in special damages.  It will go towards  €13,000 for an automatic car; €1,000 a year for a weekly €20 wash and blow dry at the hairdressers, and €39 every three months for hair colouring.

Over €2,000 per annum has been factored in for six hours home help every week.

Ms Caillaud, Shannon View, Leitrim Village, Leitrim, had sued Lough Rynn Castle Ltd, her employer and owners of  the hotel at Mohill, Co Leitrim.  She also sued two English companies Bunzl Outsourcing Ltd, Seymour Street, London and Utopia Tableware Ltd, Chesterfield who produced the jug.

She had told the court told  "the bottom of the jug exploded" and she suffered a deep laceration at the base of her right thumb in the incident on December 9, 2007 when she was working on the hotel's breakfast shift.

She claimed she has been left with a loss of strength in her right hand and could not resume work as a waitress.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross accepted Ms Caillaud's evidence that complaints had been made by hotel staff previously as to the shattering of water jugs and that nothing was done about it.

Engineering evidence on behalf of Ms Caillaud showed a number of broken jugs which were examined were not suitable for catering use.

They contained an unusually thick handle and a joint with the thin glass of the jug was liable to be fragile and unsafe if subjected to

rapid hating and cooling from prolonged dishwasher use  in the catering trade.

Mr Justice Cross said no engineering evidence was offered by the other side.

There was no no question, the judge said  of contributory negligence against Ms Caillaud and he found hotel management were or ought to have been aware of the complaints about breakages and ought to have been put on the alert and removed the jugs as being unsuitable.

The jug suppliers, he said, had supplied the jugs to the hotel as being suitable for use in the catering trade when according to all the

evidence they were not.

Mr Justice Cross believed Ms Caillaud was entirely genuine and any suggestion she was exaggerating her complaints were "entirely without foundation."

Assessing general damages for pain and suffering to date and in to the future at a total of €170,000 Mr Justice Cross said Ms Caillaud was entitled to be compensated for the initial injury and the pain syndrome and carpel tunnel syndrome she suffered afterwards.

He allowed €135, 000 for loss of earnings as he said Ms Cailliaud, who has since graduated in fine art, has not worked since the accident.

He granted a stay on the award in event of an appeal provided €300,000 was paid out immediately.

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