Monday 14 October 2019

No damages for woman who fell on dance floor

A Wexford woman who suffered serious injuries after falling while dancing to rock music at a friend's 40th birthday party, lost a High Court action for damages against the Talbot Hotel.

Ms. Justice Mary Irvine ruled that 57-year old Margaret Walsh, 44 Antelope Road, Maudlintown, fell after becoming 'destabilised' due to the kitten heel of her boot getting caught in the strap of another woman's sandal and not, as was alleged, because the dance floor at the Talbot Hotel was slippery as a result of drink spillages.

The Judge also awarded costs of the two-day action against Ms. Walsh.

The case was the third heard and dismissed in the High Court during the past three weeks over the issue of liability for injuries suffered by women while dancing.

The two earlier actions were against Copper Face Jacks, the well-known Dublin nightclub.

Ms. Walsh sued the Talbot Hotel over injuries suffered on May 23, 2009, when she fell on a dance floor which she claimed was wet and dangerous.

She alleged there was inadequate supervision of the dance floor and that young children had been allowed to bring drinks onto it.

The hotel denied any liability in the matter.

In her judgment, Ms. Justice Irvine said she sympathised greatly with the plaintiff because of the severity of her injuries and the pain and suffering she had to endure due to the horrific nature of an injury to her hip.

It was also clear her injuries had made it substantially more difficult for Ms. Walsh to cope with the significant demands she faced caring for her serioulsy disabled daughter.

However, Ms. Justice Irving said she could not allow her sympathy to interfere with her judgment in respect of liability.

She was not satisfied Ms. Walsh's injuries were sustained in the manner alleged by her.

Nor was she satisfied, as a matter of probability, that there were children or other young people dancing on the dance floor while carrying drinks in their hands.

The fall happened just after midnight and she thought it unlikely many of the eight children under 12 at the party were still present.

If there were children there, she thought it highly likely, if they were dancing with drinks in their hands, their parents or someother adults would have intervened to restrain them.

The Judge accepted evidence of the hotel's deputy manager that it had a strict policy that drink was not to be taken onto the dance floor and members of staff were properly trained to implement this policy.

She also noted that no other witness was called to support Ms. Walsh's evidence that the floor was slippery and children were bringing drinks onto it.

Ms. Justice Irvine said she was not satisfied it was the presence of any type of liquid on the floor that caused Ms. Walsh to fall.

The Judge ruled Ms. Walsh sustained her injuries as a result of becoming destabilised when the kitten heel of her boot managed momentarily to become caught in the strap of the other woman's sandal when they were dancing together. That caused her to fall to the ground.

Wexford People