€71k award for woman who fractured knee after slipping on kitchen tiles

20 November 2013

A woman who fractured her knee when she slipped on new porcelain tiles on her kitchen floor has been awarded more than €71,000 in the High Court against the tile supplier.

Caroline Ryan, 51, a sales representative from Larkfield Close, Lucan, Dublin, sued KGK Tiles Ltd, which operates the Right Price Tiles franchise in 21 outlets across the country.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he had to agree with a description he had heard of the floor tiles being “lethal”. He also said the compensation guidelines by the government body which makes personal injury awards, the Injuries Board, were out of date and, therefore, not relevant in this case.

Ms Ryan, a married mother of three, claimed the company was negligent in supplying a tile which was not fit for purpose in that it did not have sufficient anti-slip properties — particularly for use in a kitchen which would regularly be wet.

KGK denied her claims and said it had sold 11,000 square yards of these Spanish-made “Forest Wenge” wood-effect tiles in 2009/10 before it stopped stocking them due to a rise in price.

Christopher Dineen, owner of the Right Price Tiles franchise, told the court the company had sold 16m square yards of tiles to 800,000 customers in the past 15 years without anybody else making a claim against them.

The court heard the tiles were bought for €600 from Right Price Tiles, Clondalkin, on Sept 24, 2009, and were laid by Ms Ryan’s husband. Within a month, Ms Ryan’s teenage son had slipped on them after coming into the house and banged his head off a kitchen cabinet.

Ms Ryan said she had just washed the tiles and left them to dry for about 20 minutes before returning and slipping on the floor. She attended A&E where she was put in a cast for a week and into a hip-to-toe brace for six weeks.

Awarding her €71,340, Mr Justice Cross said he accepted expert evidence on behalf of Ms Ryan that these tiles were unsuitable for a kitchen as they were particularly slippy when wet. Given the amount of time between when they were laid and when these accidents or near-accidents involving the Ryan family occurred, he must agree with a description by one witness the floor was lethal.

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