A WOMAN who fractured her knee when she slipped on new porcelain tiles on her kitchen floor has been awarded more than €71,000 in the High Court against the tile supplier.
Caroline Ryan (51), a sales representative from Larkfield Close, Lucan, Dublin, sued KGK Tiles Ltd which operates the "Right Price Tiles" franchise in 21 outlets across the country.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he had to agree with a description he had heard of the floor tiles being "lethal". He also commented that compensation guidelines by the government body which makes personal injury awards, the Injuries Board, were out of date and therefore not relevant in this case.
Ms Ryan, a married mother of three, claimed the company was negligent in supplying a tile which was not fit for purpose in that they did not have sufficient anti-slip properties particularly for use in a kitchen which would regularly be wet.
KGK denied her claims and said it had sold 11,000 square yards of these Spanish made "Forest Wengue" wood-effect tiles in 2009/10 before they stopped stocking them due to an increase in price.
Christopher Dineen, owner of the Right Price Tiles franchise, told the court they has sold 16 million square yards of tiles to 800,000 customers in the last 15 years without anyone else making a claim against them.
The court heard the tiles were bought for €600 from Right Price Tiles, Clondalkin, on September 24, 2009, and were laid by Ms Ryan's husband.
Within a month, Ms Ryan's teenage son had slipped on them after coming into the house and banged his head off a kitchen cabinet. The boy's grandmother had also nearly fallen while the family Labrador slipped around the floor when he was in the kitchen.
Ms Ryan said she had just washed the tiles and left them to dry for about 20 minutes before returning and slipping on the floor. She attended A & E where she was put in a cast for a week and into a hip-to-toe brace for six weeks.
Awarding her €71,340, Mr Justice Cross said he accepted expert evidence on behalf of Ms Ryan that these tiles were unsuitable for a kitchen as they were particularly slippy when wet. Given the amount of time between when they were laid and when these accidents or near-accidents involving the Ryan family occurred, he must agree with a description by one witness that the floor was lethal.
He disagreed with the defendant's claim of contributory negligence against Ms Ryan because she had left the floor to dry for 20 minutes before returning to the kitchen. She would have known from washing the tiles which had previously been in the kitchen, and which had not caused a problem, how long they would take to dry, he said.
Ms Ryan's suffered a significant fracture to her kneecap which speeded up the onset of arthritic symptoms and she also suffered significant depression over her injury lasting three to four months, he said.