‘Inappropriate’ for building company to suggest alcohol was a factor in woman’s fall on site – judge

A judge has told a Dublin building company it was entirely inappropriate of them to suggest that a woman, who fell over site works and broke her wrist, had admitted she had been under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Judge Kathryn Hutton told Gowna Construction Limited there was no evidence to substantiate its allegation that 59-year-old carer Maria Kelly had drink taken when she fell and broke her wrist outside her home just over three years ago.

“The pleadings in its defence relating to alcohol were unwarranted and unnecessary,” Judge Hutton said in the Circuit Civil Court today.

Awarding Ms Kelly €15,000 compensation for her injury the judge added €2,500 to the award as punitive aggravated damages, stating Ms Kelly had been treated in hospital immediately after her fall and there had been no evidence of her having consumed alcohol.

Barrister Kevin D’Arcy, who appeared with Niall Corr Solicitors, Artane, Dublin, for Ms Kelly, told the court she had been caring for her very ill mother in Beaumont and on 23rd February, 2018 had returned home from the hospital in the middle of the night to let out her dog to relieve itself.

Ms Kelly, of Buttercup Green, Darndale, Dublin 17, said there had been a lot of construction works going on in her estate and cobbling and boards had been left lying outside her home where there had been a street light that had been removed by Gowna during renovations.

In the darkness of winter she had fallen and injured her right wrist and x-rays taken shortly afterwards revealed it had been broken.

Padraig Briody, foreman with Blanchardstown-based Gowna Construction, said he had been told by one of the company’s employees the following day that Ms Kelly had said she had some drinks taken when she fell and he had noted the remark in his work diary.

Judge Hutton said Gowna Construction had been carrying out works in a residential area and had left the site in an appalling condition with multiple hazards that had not been cordoned off.

“I am satisfied the blame for this accident lies with the defendant and I accept Ms Kelly doesn’t appear to have made a big deal of her complaints,” Judge Hutton said.

The judge said the court also accepted that Ms Kelly had fairly disclosed to doctors all of her previous accidents and injuries. Mr D’Arcy said his client had revealed she had obtained a total of €41,000 in damages relating to three accidents she had been involved in over the previous 10 years.

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