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Pensioner awarded €100,000 over bridge fall in restaurant

Canadian woman is now greatly diminished in her mobility and independence, judge says


The High Court

The High Court

The High Court

A Canadian woman who hurt her hip as she negotiated an ornamental timber bridge in an oriental restaurant has been awarded €100,000 by a High Court judge.

Catherine McKinnon from Prince Edward Island was on a “bucket list” trip to Ireland tracing her Irish roots when the accident happened 10 years ago.

“She is now greatly diminished in her mobility and independence. Her enjoyment of life has been substantially diminished,” the judge said.

Retired teacher Ms McKinnon, now aged 83 of North Wilshire, Prince Edward Island, had sued Frank Mullen, the owner of the Thai Orchid Restaurant, Metges Lane, off Kennedy Road, Navan, Co Meath as a result of the accident on June 1, 2011.

It was claimed Ms McKinnon who was in Ireland with her two daughters and son fell heavily while traversing the ornamental bridge and the left side of her body struck the side of the bridge. The party were leaving the restaurant where they had had a meal on the last night of their holiday when the accident happened.

It was claimed there was a failure to warn the woman of the risk of falling and a failure to ensure the steps were adequately illuminated.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only after a judge had in 2013 given judgment to Ms McKinnon in default of appearance by Mr Mullen.

Mr Justice Hanna said a remote hearing took place and Mr Mullen who represented himself appeared in person in court.

The judge said it was most unfortunate that Mr Mullen, having got himself back on his feet as regards his business, then found himself closed down as a result of the pandemic. But the judge said in assessing damages, he must be blind “to the means of the negligent party”.

In her evidence, which she gave remotely from Canada to her counsel Barney Quirke SC instructed by Tiernan and Co solicitors, Ms McKinnon said she was shocked and helped to her feet after the accident.

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The party moved on to another location but as she walked into the next premises her left side gave way and she collapsed to the floor in pain.

Ms McKinnon was rushed to hospital where she needed a partial left hip replacement and she spent 12 days in hospital. A left shoulder injury was later diagnosed when she returned to Canada.

Her daughter Michelle said her mother had changed significantly since the accident. She had been a strong matriarch who had instigated the trip to Ireland, but her adventurous spirit had now disappeared.

Mr Justice Hanna said the fracture to Ms McKinnon's left lower limb is the more significant. He said it was and remains a serious injury and has given rise to considerable pain and discomfort and has greatly debilitated Ms McKinnon.

“The impact of this injury on Mr McKinnon and her everyday living is permanent and will remain so. This situation will not alter or improve,” the judge added.

He awarded €50,000 for pain and suffering to date and another €50,000 for pain and suffering in the future.

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