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Woman (79) awarded €30,000 after fall on shopping centre trav-o-lator

A 79-year-old woman who suffered what a doctor described as "notoriously painful injuries" in a fall on a shopping centre’s downhill trav-o-lator, has been awarded €30,000 damages.

Barrister Raymond Delahunt said in the Circuit Civil Court today that a runaway shopping trolley had dragged frail Rosaleen Hill to the ground, lacerating her knees and breaking her right shoulder in three places.

Co-defendants Dunnes Stores; Gary Smith, trading as The Ashleaf Shopping Centre, Cromwellsfort Road, Walkinstown, Dublin, and Kessow Limited which runs the centre, accepted that Mrs Hill, a widow of Greentrees Road, Terenure, Dublin, had been caused to fall and hurt herself.

Paul McKeon, counsel for Dunnes Stores, told the court the defendants were disputing ownership of or liability for a “rogue shopping trolley” which had been the cause of the accident.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane dismissed the case against Dunnes Stores and held Kessow Limited and Gary Smith responsible for payment of the €30,000 award and all legal costs in the case.

Mrs Hill, who will be 80 next August, told Judge Linnane she had chosen a shopping trolley from the common area outside Dunnes Stores on March 23, 2009 to do her shopping.

Afterwards while going down the moving trav-o-lator to the underground car park the trolley had run away with her. She had been unable to hold on to it and had started screaming because she knew she was going to fall.

Karl Searson, a forensic engineer, explained to the court that the shopping trolleys used by Dunnes were fitted with corrugated rubber wheels that locked into longitudinal groves on the trav-o-lator, restricting the travel speed.

He said the rogue trolley selected by Mrs Hill was fitted with smooth wheels unsuitable for a downhill trav-o-lator. It would have taken someone with strength and agility to have held the trolley from running away with them.

Ellis McMullen, operations manager for Antrim-based Rocklyn Engineering, which supplies Dunnes Stores nationally with its shopping trolleys, told the court his company had never supplied Dunnes with a trolley of the type responsible for the accident.

He said the company did supply such trolleys to shop-fitters and small stores.

Judge Linnane said shop fitters had been working in the centre on the day of the accident and the trolley picked up by Mrs Hill probably belonged to them.

She dismissed the case against Dunnes Stores and held Kessow Limited and Gary Smith, trading as Ashleaf Shopping Centre, liable for the accident.

Awarding Mrs Hill €30,000 damages, the judge said Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon Paul Nicholson had described her shoulder injuries as notoriously painful.