Tuesday 23 April 2019

Woman who broke her wrist after falling on ramp at apartment building has appealed €25k High Court award

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Tim Healy

A holidaymaker who broke her wrist when she fell on a ramp while leaving an apartment building has appealed a High Court decision to award her €25,000 for her injury.

Denise Rowley (34), of Drumlonagher, Donegal town, claims the High Court award did not address the ongoing injury she has suffered, particularly in relation to her duties as a dental nurse.

She sued Budget Travel, tour operator for the week long package holiday she took to Gran Canaria, Spain, in 2008.

She claimed that on leaving her accommodation at Vista Oasis Apartments, Maspalomas, on the last day of her holiday, May 11, she was required to descend a dangerously defective ramp.  She fell backwards, stretching out her hand and fracturing her right wrist and hurting her back.

Her wrist was put in a temporary cast locally and in a permanent one when she got home. She missed six weeks work at the time when she was training to be a dental nurse.

Budget Travel denied her claim. 

The Court of Appeal (CoA) heard on Friday that in the High Court case Budget had made an offer, or "tender", to Ms Rowley of €36,000 just before the hearing took place. This was not accepted and the case went ahead with the resultant €25,000 award by then High Court president Nicholas Kearns.

Jonathan Kilfeather SC, for Ms Rowley, said the High Court failed to attach sufficient weight to the evidence before it, particularly in relation to the fact that she suffered a considerable amount of pain and has ongoing consequences as a result of the fall.  

Four years after the accident, a doctor said her injury was permanent with a risk of arthristis in her wrist in the future.

As a dental nurse, her injury continued to affect her in relation to lifting and carrying because it was on her dominant hand, counsel said.

Noel McCarthy SC, with Shane English BL, for Budget, argued the High Court award should not be disturbed. 

The High Court judge was in the best position to assess her demeanour, he said.

She had claimed, in her pleadings, problems associated with the back injury but there was  no evidence to the High Court about this, he said.

It would appear the injury has not affected her ability to work, he added.

The three-judge CoA said it would give its decision next month but, Mr Justice Michael Peart, presiding, urged the parties to make an effort to settle it in the meantime. 

While on one level it was a simple case, there were some difficult issues, he said.

The court proposed reserving its decision for up to three weeks but, in the meantime, there was perhaps "scope for discussion to take place" whereby it might not be necessary to give a decision at all, he added.

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