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High Court Action for Damages

Posted on 1st November, by Joanne in Litigation, Personal Injury. No Comments

A WOMAN who fell on her way into a parish hall to vote in a referendum has lost her High Court action for damages over the incident.

Anne Cassidy (68), Crickstown, Ratoath, Co Meath, sued Fr Philip Gaffney, the parish priest of Curraha, Ashbourne, Co Meath; Mary O’Malley, returning officer for East Meath in the referendum; and the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government as the owner/occupier of the hall on the day of the accident.

The High Court was told Mrs Cassidy, a housewife, went with her husband Patrick to Curraha parochial hall on October 2nd, 2009, to vote in the second Lisbon referendum.

At the entrance door, she tripped and fell when her toe caught on a raised weather strip at the step into the hall, the court heard.

Mrs Cassidy claimed she suffered injuries and the defendants were negligent in not foreseeing the danger and not providing warning signs about it.

The defendants claimed she failed to keep a proper lookout and was the author of her own misfortune.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Eamon de Valera dismissed her action saying Mrs Cassidy, who had used the hall to vote on a number of occasions previously, unfortunately did not take enough care this time and tripped.

“There is no such thing as a step that somebody will not fall over,” he said.

There was nothing about this particular step, which had been crossed over by thousands of people in the past, that would have alerted the authorities “to view it as a danger or trap”, he said.

“There must be a sense of reality and proportion in all of these cases and to find this as being blameworthy would be to lower that sense of reality.”

As Mrs Cassidy had not proven liability, the judge said he must dismiss the case and award costs against her.

From photos he had seen of the premises, built in the 1970s, it was well maintained and built with professional expertise, the judge also said.

He did not accept there was anything unusual about the step and said similar steps were commonly found in buildings.

Earlier, Mrs Cassidy told the court that, after the accident, her husband brought her to Blanchardstown hospital where she underwent X-rays that did not reveal any breakages.

She claimed she was left with serious pain in her left shoulder, back, hip and ankle and remains on painkilling medication.

She did not undergo an MRI scan because she is claustrophobic and declined painkilling injections for her shoulder because she did not like needles, she said.

Cross-examined by senior counsel Michael Byrne, for the defendants, Mrs Cassidy said she previously sued the council over a fall in Navan, when she suffered injuries to her nose and face.


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