A 23-year-old Ennis woman is counting the cost of taking on retail giant Dunnes Stores over a “nasty” finger injury caused by a broken Dolmio pasta sauce jar – and losing.
This follows Judge Gerald Keys at Ennis Circuit Civil Court dismissing Maria McDonagh’s personal injury action against Dunnes Stores and ordering her to pay the retailer’s legal costs from her unsuccessful action.
Judge Keys made his ruling, after finding Ms McDonagh’s injury was probably caused when picking up the glass debris of the Dolmio pasta sauce jar she let fall at the retailer’s Ennis store on February 4, 2014, and not, as Ms McDonagh claimed, sustained when picking up a broken or defective jar of Dolmio from the shelf.
Judge Keys said, “It is more probable that the injury was inflicted when she handled the debris of the glass when it hit the floor. The plaintiff has not discharged the onus of proof and can’t succeed. It was a nasty injury but not that serious – unfortunately, accidents do happen.”
Ms McDonagh retained a barrister, a solicitor and an expert witness to help her advance her claim and Judge Keys also ordered Ms McDonagh to pay Dunnes Stores’ legal costs.
In evidence, Ms McDonagh said that she was shopping with her two-year-old nephew at the company’s Ennis store and, when picking a jar of Dolmio from the shelf, “I felt a sharp pain go through my finger but let the jar fall.”
She added, “Out of reflex, I tried to catch it.”
Ms McDonagh said that she felt a sharp pain in her left-hand baby finger, as a result of the prod from the glass. “I looked at my hand and I saw the blood and I was in shock,” she maintained.
Asked did she do anything when the jar hit the floor, Ms McDonagh replied, “No, I just left it there.” She said, “I was in shock. There was a load of blood.”
Dunnes staff arrived on the scene and tended to Ms McDonagh’s wound and phoned for an ambulance.
An ambulance crew also arrived and they advised Ms McDonagh to go to hospital.
Ms McDonagh, of Bridge View, Ennis, told the court, “They said that the hospital was over the road and they didn’t see much point in bringing me there by ambulance.”
Asked about the impact of the injury, Ms McDonagh stated, “I do get sharp pins and needles up through it. I can’t straighten it – it is curved and I do twitch it now and again.”
Asked if she was conscious of the scar, Ms McDonagh said, “Yes. I used to get my nails done often, but I don’t anymore because I would be afraid of people looking at the scar.”
Counsel for Dunnes, Michael Collins, BL, said the evidence from the Dunnes store manager, Alan Patterson, stated, “You apologised for breaking the jar and that it slipped from your hand and smashed. There was nothing about the jar causing you a sharp pain.”
Ms McDonagh said she never had such a conversation with Mr Patterson.
In evidence, Mr Patterson said that Ms McDonagh was feeling faint and apologised for breaking the jar. He said, “She told me it had slipped from her hand.”
Mr Patterson said that it was only the next day, when he bumped into Ms McDonagh, that she claimed that the jar was broken.
Mr Collins said that there was no pasta sauce on the shelf that would indicate that sauce had been seeping out from the broken Dolmio jar.
Mr Collins said that a medical report found that Ms McDonagh suffered no sensory deficit and there was no complaint of pins and needles. He added that there was no structural problem with her finger but that she had some problem moving it.