Payout reduced for woman injured after alleged fall in Dunnes Stores

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has reduced an award by €20,000 to a woman who claimed she broke her ankle when she fell off a step-ladder while organising shelves at Dunnes Stores five years ago.

The supermarket chain appealed the €120,000 High Court award made to 55-year-old Gunta Kadege, of Butlersgrange, Tullow, Co Carlow. The CoA awarded €100,000.

In both courts Ms Kadege’s award was in addition to €40,901 in agreed special damages.

Last May, the High Court’s Mr Justice Michael Hanna accepted Ms Kadege’s evidence that she made it to the second rung of the ladder in the Leaopardstown store when it became unstable.

She contended that the step-ladder was defective and had gone one way, and she went the other way, falling off.

Dunnes had disputed this version of the September 20th, 2018, event, claiming she tripped over the step-ladder when walking past.

It was not disputed that she suffered a severe ankle injury.

In a judgment on behalf of the three-judge court, Mr Justice Seamus Noonan found the High Court’s €120,000 award for what was a severe and permanent ankle injury must be viewed as “disproportionate in this case”.

Using the Book of Quantum — the legal tool for assessing damages prior to the introduction of the new personal injuries guidelines — Mr Justice Noonan said Ms Kadege’s injury, which required surgery, “falls pretty squarely” within a category that allows awards of between €80,500 and €93,300.

Given Ms Kadege will have to have an ankle fusion in the future, the CoA allowed an uplift on the Book of Quantum figure to award €100,000 for the injury.

The CoA held against Dunnes in its appeal against the finding that it was liable for the accident.


In the appeal, Dunnes said Ms Kadege’s evidence was confused and contradictory. The alleged defect in the ladder, in the form of a 40mm “wobble”, had never been causily linked to the accident, it claimed.

Dunnes also submitted that Mr Justice Hanna failed to give any reasons for preferring the plaintiff’s expert evidence over that of the defendant.

Mr Justice Noonan said, whatever the precise mechanism of the accident, it was common case that the ladder fell to the right on the ground, while Ms Kadege fell to the left.

Mr Justice Noonan said Dunnes is correct in that Ms Kadege was “entirely unclear” about the precise mechanism of the accident and “was not able to describe with any clarity how she fell or why she fell”.

However, she was clear and consistent in maintaining that she was on the ladder at the time of or immediately before the accident, he said.

Supporting this was the fact that while she was on the ground waiting for an ambulance after the event, Ms Kadege wrote in a statement that she had been on the ladder.

The High Court rejected the store manager’s evidence that she had not been on the ladder on the basis that his recollection was incorrect. A statement made by the manager the day after the accident was lost without explanation, said Mr Justice Noonan.

In these circumstances the High Court was entitled to prefer Ms Kadege’s evidence, he added.

Ms Kadege’s expert witness said the step-ladder was wobbly enough to cause her to lose her balance and fall.

Mr Justice Noonan could see no reason why the High Court judge was not entitled to accept this evidence which “identified a clear causal link between the defect in the ladder and the accident”.

The appeal on liability must fail, the judge said.

Mr Justice Senan Allen and Mr Justice Robert Haughton agreed with the judgement.

If you would like an assessment of a claim, you can use the online form available here without obligation or alternatively you can use the automatic claim calculator.

Follow us for the latest updates & news

Recent News

Judges should avoid ‘parental alienation’ term, report suggests

Parental alienation is a “highly controversial” concept and the use of the term in Irish legal settings should be treated with serious caution, researchers have said. Though the term is being used increasingly often by Irish judges, they “do not appear to use an...

Runaway jury

The proposed abolition of the legal right to trial by jury in High Court defamation proceedings strikes not just at an ancient legal right, but also at the concept of the participation of the public in the administration of justice, argues Mr Justice Bernard Barton.

Opinion: “No Collision, No Claim” The wrong decision?

Did the judge get it wrong in the recent case of a woman whose personal injury claim was dismissed due to lack of a collision? In my humble opinion, I would venture to say yes. The plaintiff in question alleged that she sustained injuries when she was compelled to...

Recent Articles

Solicitor’s Fees in Ireland

Understanding the various ways solicitors charge their clients in claims cases in Ireland, including hourly rates, fixed fees, and conditional fees (with restrictions), is important for those seeking legal representation, and utilising the Irish Claims Authority is an alternative to consider.

Alternatives to litigation in Ireland

Overview of alternatives to litigation Reference to arbitration is commonplace in commercial contracts. However, there is an increasing trend towards consent-based forms of ADR such as mediation and expert determination as more flexible and cost-efficient ADR...

Private Investigator use in Ireland

Private investigators are individuals who are hired to carry out investigations on behalf of individuals or organizations. In Ireland, the use of private investigators is governed by a range of laws and regulations. In this blog post, we will explore the use of...

Join our Panel

You May Also Like...

Runaway jury

Runaway jury

The proposed abolition of the legal right to trial by jury in High Court defamation proceedings strikes not just at an ancient legal right, but also at the concept of the participation of the public in the administration of justice, argues Mr Justice Bernard Barton.

Don`t copy text!