Defective Chair in Restaurant

A customer was in a Supermac’s restaurant, having a meal, when the chair she was sitting on collapsed causing injury to her lower back and buttock. She claimed that as the chair collapsed, she fell and hit the floor.

However, CCTV footage showed her sitting on the seat and momentarily lurching to the side. She remained on her feet and stood upright immediately. Her barrister told the court that she accepted the evidence that she did not fall and hit the ground but stated that it would be a gross injustice for her client to fail simply because she got one element wrong. Supermac’s admitted that the chair was defective. The plaintiff said that she was embarrassed about the incident and continued with her meal but brought the matter up with a staff member. She started to feel back pain a few days later and went to her GP who sent her for an MRI. She said she suffered pain for about five years and particularly when bending down or lifting objects.

Surveillance footage taken by a private investigator, hired by the plaintiff in 2019, showed the plaintiff loading two 12-pack bottles of water with one hand into her shopping trolley in a supermarket. Footage also showed her holding a toddler in one arm and waving with the other hand. She said in cross-examination that she was able to do everyday things with the help of pain killers. She also stated that the pain suffered had now gone.

An orthopaedic surgeon, called as an expert witness by the defendant, said her MRI scan was normal for a person her age and did not show any soft tissue injuries or damage to her ligaments.

The plaintiff’s GP said he found her injuries credible.

The judge, in reviewing the evidence, said he was satisfied that the plaintiff suffered a certain level of injuries from the accident. He assessed the injuries suffered for a maximum of two and a half years and awarded her €16,400.

On the basis of the evidence, it seems a harsh judgment and an appeal could well be under consideration by Supermacs.

Pamela Dudgeon v Supermac’s (Holdings) Ltd Circuit Court (Galway) 25 May 2022.


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