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Wedding guest in hotel claim 'very drunk'

A wedding guest, who fell in the loo of a four-star hotel was severely drunk when medics rushed her to hospital, a court has been told.

Aidan Gleeson, a consultant in accident and emergency medicine, told a judge that a house doctor examined former cook Donna Lam after admission to hospital, and found her "extremely intoxicated".

Barrister Moira Flahive said in the Circuit Civil Court yesterday that Lam's €38,000 damages claim against the Shelbourne Hotel was "a concoction from beginning to end". She had claimed to have slipped in a wet cubicle, striking her lower back on a toilet bowl.

Mr Gleeson said that when Ms Lam, of North Clarence Street Flats, Dublin, was admitted on a spinal board to St James's Hospital, she had claimed to have lost all power and feeling in her legs.


"She was claiming she was paralysed but when the admitting doctor distracted her he found she could actually move her legs," Mr Gleeson said.

He told Judge Joseph Mathews he considered, at best, that Ms Lam had suffered a soft tissue injury to her left wrist. Anybody could walk into a hospital emergency department and say they had been injured whether they had been or not, he said.

Ms Lam said she had been a guest at a wedding reception in The Great Room in the hotel in June 2001, and had been enjoying herself at the dance which followed the meal. She had seven pints of beer before going to the toilet where she had slipped on a puddle of liquid in the cubicle.

"I fell back and struck the toilet seat with my lower back. As I tried to get up I slipped again and injured my left wrist as I tried to save myself," she said.

Ms Lam said two wedding guests helped her back to the bar where the barman had handed her a large brandy which she had drunk before an ambulance arrived. She had pins and needles and loss of feeling in her legs at the hospital.

Damian Foley, former head barman at The Shelbourne, told the court no-one had given Lam a brandy following her alleged fall. She was distressed and crying and he had seen her take a swig of a pint her boyfriend had bought her.

"She was wearing high heels and wobbling. She found it very hard to stay up. She was very drunk. On a scale of 1 to 10 she was 10," he told the court.

After she had been taken to hospital he checked the toilets and found four of the five cubicles bone dry, including the one she claimed to have slipped in. The fifth cubicle had droplets of urine beside the bowl.

Judge Mathews, throwing out Ms Lam's claim with costs to the hotel, said she had failed in convincing him there was a breach of duty of care by the hotel.