The High Court has awarded a Clare-based singer €64,300 in damages for injuries she sustained after she slipped and fell in a Limerick city supermarket.
Rachel Prior, aged 32 years and known by her stage name of ‘Rachy P’, sued Dunnes Stores seeking damages for negligence for injuries she sustained after she slipped and fell to the ground at its outlet at Henry Street, Limerick on December 6, 2008 last.
Ms Prior, who lives at Woodkawn, Brickhill West, Cratloe, claimed while shopping in Dunnes her feet shot out from under her and she fell forcefully onto her back after she came into contact with a white liquid- milk or cream- on the floor surface in the vicinity of the diary fridge. She claimed she suffered immediate pain.
The court heard she suffered pain in her neck and lower back and other injuries as a result of the accident.
Dunnes Stores had denied the claims. During the action the supermarket’s lawyers had put it to Ms Prior that on line posts on social media including images showing her holding bowling balls, and punching a virtual reality boxing machine showed that she was not suffering from any significant disability.
In his judgment Mr Justice Anthony Barr said Ms Prior had established negligence. He said he accepted expert evidence given on behalf of Ms Prior the floor surface where the accident occurred is shiny and a spillage would not have been readily visible to a person walking down the aisle.
The judge said he was not making a finding of contributory negligence against Ms Prior, who he added was a truthful witness.
In terms of the quantum of the award the Judge said he accepted medical evidence on Ms Prior’s behalf that while some of her injuries have resolved she will continue to have lower back pain in the future.
He noted Ms Prior accepted that since the accident she did high energy dance routines as part of her musical performances and other activities, some of which were posted on social media. Ms Prior said despite her injuries she had tried to get on with her life, but “would pay for her activities in the days after a gig.”
The Judge said it appeared she will be able to pursue a singing career which involves energetic dance moves. Noting the on line postings he said she is able to pursue fairly active sporting and recreation activities. It is clear the Judge said she is “a fit young lady”.
She will, the judge added, will have to adopt her lifestyle to take account of her condition. Overall she was “a truthful witness” who had “not attempted to overstate her injuries,” and “was genuine in her complaints.”
The Judge said after taking all the circumstances into account he was awarding Ms Prior €64,300 damages plus the legal costs of her action.
The Judge, following submissions from lawyers for both parties, agreed to place a stay on the judgement in the event €30,000 was paid to Ms Prior plus another €20,000 was paid towards her legal costs.
Dunnes had sought a stay on the award pending an appeal. However the stay was opposed by Ms Prior’s lawyers who argued such an application was a tactic by the supermarket chain and had nothing to do with the circumstances of this particular case.