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Girl hurt in loo loses €38k payout battle

A schoolgirl who was injured while sharing a loo with a friend at a teenage disco has lost a €38,000 damages claim against Old Wesley Rugby Club.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane dismissed the claim of Laura Mulvanney, now 19, of Foxrock Mount, Foxrock, Dublin, against the Donnybrook club.

The judge said Ms Mulvanney, injured when the top of a toilet cistern fell on her leg at a Saturday night hop, had failed to prove negligence and lack of care by the club.

Barrister Kevin Callan, counsel for Old Wesley, told the Circuit Civil Court yesterday the club alleged the two girls had been engaged in the clandestine consumption of alcohol.

Ms Mulvanney, 15 when the incident happened, said she and a friend, Aideen O'Higgins, had gone to the toilet together at the Old Wesley teenage disco on 30th September, 2006.

Both had been in the same cubicle and she had used the toilet first. She had not flushed it as she knew Aideen was also going to use it. When Aideen flushed the loo, the top of the cistern had smashed on the floor, cutting her leg.

When asked about two empty alcohol bottles which had been found in the cistern following the incident, she said she and her friend knew nothing about them. Staff had conducted a search of everyone's belongings entering the club.

She noticed blood pouring down her leg after the incident and a member of the staff took her to St Vincent's Hospital where she had received six stitches. Aideen O'Higgins said she was sitting on the loo and the cistern lid came crashing down when she put her hand back behind her to flush it.

She denied she and Laura had a fight in a first aid room following the incident.

Both girls denied drinking in the toilet. They said they each had two drinks before going to the disco.

Toilet attendant Lorraine Hopkins said she heard the girls laughing and giggling in the cubicle. She heard a crash and knocked the door. They had rushed past her. Ms Hopkins said she saw the smashed cistern lid on the floor and could smell alcohol. She found two spirits bottles in the cistern.

Old Wesley events manager Donie Bolger said the disco club had an zero tolerance policy to alcohol. He said both girls looked intoxicated in the first aid room. Laura had said to Aideen: "You bitch. Why did you do that. I told you to stop messing."

Judge Linnane awarded costs against Ms Mulvanney.