Monday 21 May 2018

Woman who tripped on 'lumpy' carpet and lacerated her forehead in rented apartment awarded €30k damages

The plaintiff Michelle Walsh, of Grand Canal Wharf, South Dock Road, Ringsend, Dublin, Leaving court after the hearing. Photo: CourtPix
The plaintiff Michelle Walsh, of Grand Canal Wharf, South Dock Road, Ringsend, Dublin, Leaving court after the hearing. Photo: CourtPix

Ray Managh

A 51-year-old woman, who tripped on a “lumpy” carpet and lacerated her forehead against a radiator, has been awarded €30,000 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge Terence O’Sullivan told Michelle Walsh, of Grand Canal Wharf, South Dock Road, Ringsend, Dublin, that he was holding her a third responsible for her own downfall and reduced the award by €10,000.

“Litigation always surprises when it gets up and running and no less in this case,” Judge O’Sullivan said when he criticised the evidence of a witness specifically called to attack the credibility of what Walsh had told the court.

Barrister Esther Earley, counsel for Ms Walsh, said her client had rented an apartment at 12 Clyde Court, Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4, which was in the now demolished apartment block attached to the Clyde Court Hotel.

Ms Earley, who appeared with Keira O’Reilly of Keans Solicitors, said Ms Walsh had tripped on an area of “lumpy humpy” carpet in her apartment living room in May 2014 and struck her head against a rusty valve on a radiator.

Walsh told the court the accident happened shortly after midnight as she was closing a window. She had spent nine hours in a hospital emergency department waiting to have her head wound stitched.  She had been left with a scar.

She produced a selfie photograph of the radiator she had fallen against and claimed that, although she had never complained about the carpet, numerous complaints about the apartment had been ignored.

Walsh sued estate agents Ed Dempsey and Associates, Clonskeagh, Co Dublin; Tullane Business Management Limited, Sandyford Industrial Estate, and Dalata Hotel Group Limited, Burton Hall Drive, Sandyford.

Judge O’Sullivan told barrister Andrew Whelan, counsel for the estate agents, that his client had no case to meet and was dismissed from the proceedings with an order for their costs.

Holding the second and third defendants liable for Ms Walsh’s €60,000 damages claim, the judge said the defendants had called former maintenance man Damien McCabe to challenge Ms Walsh’s evidence.

He said Mr McCabe had produced his own photograph of the radiator and floor carpet which turned out to be a picture of a completely different radiator in a room with a different carpet design. “He is a completely unreliable witness,” Judge O’Sullivan said.

The judge paid tribute “to the perspicacity” of Ms Earley, the plaintiff’s barrister, in so quickly catching on to the difference in the two photographs produced to the court. He said they were apparently different pictures of different radiators in different rooms with different carpets.

Judge O’Sullivan refused a stay on his order to facilitate consideration by the defendants of an appeal to the High Court.

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