Woman gets €20k after banging knee on leg of hotel table

Hairdresser Annette O’Connor. Photo: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

A woman who banged her knee against the leg of a table while sitting down to dinner at a hotel, has been awarded €20,000 in damages.

The High Court heard that hairdresser Annette O'Connor had been directed to a table in the Mullingar Park Hotel restaurant, had waited while the manager withdrew her chair, then sat down and injured her left knee as she pulled her chair in to the table.

Ms O'Connor (48), of The View, Larch Hill, Santry, Dublin, was on a Mother's Day weekend stay at the hotel with five friends in March 2011.

She claimed that being directed to the table setting right over the metal leg, which was concealed by a table cloth, constituted "a trap" and negligence on the part of the hotel owners, Euro Plaza Hotel Limited.

Ms O'Connor told the court she was not given any warning that the leg was hidden right in front of where she had been directed to sit.

As she pulled in her chair, her left knee struck a leg that had been obscured by the tablecloth.

She had been awarded €18,000 damages at Mullingar Circuit Court by Judge Doirbhile Flanagan, whose judgment was appealed to the High Court.

Ms Justice Mary Faherty affirmed the lower court's finding and increased damages to €20,000 and costs.

Ms O'Connor's legal team claimed negligence against the hotel on the basis the table set-up constituted a trap or hazard for patrons and that their client had been directed to sit in an unsafe spot.

It was also claimed the table place setting had been prepared in "a reckless or careless and inattentive manner".

Ms O'Connor claimed she immediately felt pain and shock but had her meal before retiring to her room, where staff brought her an ice pack and a drink.

When she returned home, she attended her local doctor, the Beaumont Hospital for X-rays and later a specialist in muscle spasm. The injury had disrupted her personal and professional life as a hairdresser.


The judge said she accepted it was foreseeable that such an accident could occur and that liability lay with the hotel.

Contributory negligence could not be applied to Ms O'Connor as she had been specifically directed to the table and could not reasonably have been expected to investigate where the legs were.

Witnesses on behalf of the hotel told the court the table was of a type used all over the world and was found to be perfectly suitable for restaurants.