Sunday 19 November 2017

Woman who claimed she broke ankle due to wet dance floor loses High Court action

The Four Courts (Stock Image)
The Four Courts (Stock Image)

Tim Healy

The High Court has dismissed a woman's claim she broke her ankle in a fall on a wet pub dance floor.

Martina Minnock (44), Arden View, Tullamore, Co Offaly, sued Andrew Johnston and Sian Marie Johnston, owners of the Behive, Mountbolus, near Tullamore, as a result of the alleged fall on February 11, 2012. 

She was attending the birthday party of her brother in law John Cody.

The pub said she caused her own accident by lifting up Mr Cody. 

Mr Cody told the court she lifted him and they both fell onto the floor.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, dismissing her case, said sadly for her she had not discharged the onus of proof. 

He favoured the account of the publican, Mr Johnston, as regards the accident.

Mr Justice Moriarty said it was not an easy case to decide and no middle road could be taken.

A sizeable number of the citizens of Mountbolus, he said, had testified in the case and there were differences in the recollection of events.

There was also some controversy of one witness who gravitated from one side to another at a late stage.

He said in "a perfectly legitimate anxiety" to enjoy a friend's birthday party, Ms Minnock may have exceeded a little the four or five glasses of lager she said she drank.

Mother-of-three, Ms Minnock, claimed the floor was permitted to be wet and slippy.

In denying her claim that the floor was wet, the pub also pleaded she engaged in dangerous and boisterous behaviour.

Mr Justice Moriarty said the publican, Mr Johnston, had sailed close to the wind in the closely fought case.

This was in the context that he did not, at the time of the accident, have insurance on the public house.

The judge warned him he could have faced bankruptcy or a catastrophic outcome if matters had gone the other way.

He hoped that Mr Johnston would take prompt steps to put insurance in place.

Following an application for costs by the pub, the judge said Ms Minnock had suffered a nasty injury and it was a closely fought case.

Accordingly, he awarded one day's costs of the case which was heard over two days.

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