A €91,000 award to a woman who slipped and fell on what she said was a wet dancefloor at a wedding reception, breaking her ankle, has been upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Patricia Sweeney (40), an administrator with Paddy Power Bookmakers, from Fedamore, Co Limerick, sued Atlantic Troy Ltd, operators of the Charleville Park Hotel, Charleville, Co Cork, where the accident occurred at 2am on May 2nd, 2015.
The defendant denied the claims, including that the floor was wet.
She attended the wedding with her partner and during the course of the evening, she said, she had about four or five bottles of beer as well as a substantial wedding meal and a light meal later in the night.
She described the floor where she fell as being “like glass” and that her dress was wet and her hand was wet when she fell. Her partner and the bride also gave evidence that the floor was wet.
The hotel night manager gave evidence that no one had told him anything about the floor being wet. He also inspected it straight after attending to Ms Sweeney and couldn’t see any sign of it being wet, he said.
After the accident, Ms Sweeney was brought to Limerick Regional Hospital emergency department where she was treated for a fractured ankle.
She was discharged the next day but later that month, she underwent surgery on her foot. She was out of work for 14 weeks and underwent intensive physiotherapy.
She said her heel and ankle continue to be painful on a daily basis. She also has very limited movement and her foot turns out ,in consequence of which she said she walks with a limp.
The High Court found the floor was wet, the hotel was liable, and it awarded her €91,000.
The defendant appealed. It was argued the award was disproportionate and excessive on the basis that the High Court judge assessed it at the top end of the severe category when clearly, there are potentially more severe injuries which might properly attract damages at that level.
Ms Sweeney opposed the appeal and cross-appealed claiming the award should be higher.
There should have been an “uplift” in the award to take account of the severity of the scarring and swelling and psychological stress she suffered, particularly regarding her future prospects for further surgery and resultant increased limitation of movement, it was argued.
On Monday, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan, on behalf of the three-judge CoA, dismissed the appeal.
He said that while the High Court award was possibly at the higher end of the scale “and somewhat above what this court might be inclined to give”, the defendant had not established that the disparity is such as to amount to an error of law.
He also dismissed the cross-appeal.