A MAN who claimed he fell on a ‘yellow man’ warning sign, which he said was left lying on the ground in Dunnes Stores, has been awarded €20,000.
In a civil case, Limerick Circuit Court heard that Donal O’Keeffe, age 45, from Verona Terrace, O’Connell Avenue, had lost out on work as a stonemason since the accident on February 26, 2010, in Dunnes Stores, Henry Street.
Michael Collins, BL, for the plaintiff, produced photographs in court showing the frozen food aisle, where his client had allegedly fallen while looking at frozen pizzas.
A black mat was pictured on the floor, but this was not in place at the time of the accident, the court heard.
He said his client sustained a number of injuries during the fall, including a bang to his right elbow and a cut to his finger.
“The pain was significant,” said Mr Collins. “His fingers still tend to swell now if he works, though he had a reasonable degree of recovery after six months.”
In the witness box, Mr O’Keeffe said he is a regular customer to Dunnes, and does his shopping there are at the same time every Thursday.
He told Judge O’Donoghue he has had no claims before the court since he was 16 years of age. He was out of work at the time and suffered no loss of earnings.
Mr O’Keeffe said his complaint was not reported to management at Dunnes, though he claimed he tried to talk to a female staff member and was moved on by someone more senior.
Murray Johnson, barrister for Dunnes, said the plaintiff did not get any treatment when he attended St John’s hospital, after walking there. “No, I got two painkillers,” he replied.
He claimed he saw four or five different doctors in the two months after the accident, but there was no medical report from any GP. He also attended hospital some five days after this incident, for another fall, and Mr Johnson said there was menton of his previous injuries.
Judge O’Donoghue said CCTV footage “would have solved a lot of difficulties”, but the court heard that by the time the solicitor’s letter was received by Dunnes the CCTV footage was gone. A security manager told the court that footage is only held for 14 days.
“That makes my job very difficult. If you did suffer medical injury there’s very little medical evidence to support it,” he said. He said as there were no fractures he would not be taking the injuries all that seriously, and struggled to believe his fingers were still sore five years after the accident.
However, he said he accepted that “the description by the plaintiff of what occurred is what occurred” and that the mats were subsequently put in place. He said the notification of legal proceedings was also sent to Dunnes within a reasonable time frame.
“In any event I am satisfied that it [the accident] did occur, though only soft tissue injuries were sustained.”
He said he was allowing for a year and a half’s injury, and awarded €20,000.
Mr Johnson indicated that his clients may be appealing the ruling.