Shop assistant awarded €24k after tripping over flap in clothes box

A shop assistant, who celebrates her 28th birthday tomorrow, has been awarded more than €24,000 damages against her employer after tripping over the open flap of a clothes box in a store.

Aisling Smith, of Woodlawn Way, Santry, Dublin 17 was told by Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that she had not been keeping a proper look-out for herself in the Vera Moda store and reduced her award to just over €19,000 on the grounds of contributory negligence.

Barrister John Nolan, who appeared with Kent Carty Solicitors, told the court Ms Smith had injured her shoulders and back in the fall in November 2015.

It was Ms Smith’s case that the storeroom at the Vera Moda shop in the Pavilion Shopping Centre, Swords, had been cluttered with boxes.

Ms Smith said she had been transferring stock from a store room when her knee snagged on the flap of a box, causing her to fall heavily. 

She had suffered injuries to her neck and both shoulders and her back and had a soft tissue injury to her wrist after having attempted to break her fall with her hands.

Judge Groarke awarded Ms Smith a total of €22,500 damages but reduced the figure to €19,125 due to what he said was contributory negligence on her part. He said she had been working in the store for some time and had an obligation to keep a proper look-out. She had not done so and should have been more careful for her own safety.

He said that evidence by forensic engineer Barry Tennyson, who had carried out an inspection of the stock room, would suggest to him that some considerable care had been taken by the defendant to tidy up the store in anticipation of a joint engineering inspection.

Judge Groarke said the stock room had been kept in a rather haphazard condition.

Smith told the court one of the stock boxes had been pulled out from a position against the stock room wall and left with one of its flaps lying open. An award of €2,000 for loss of earnings was included in her damages award.

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