Belfast Telegraph

Dunnes Stores shopper who slipped on sugar entitled to damages, rules judge

A shopper who slipped on spilt sugar in Dunnes Stores is entitled to damages, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Maguire held that Seamus Stennett had established negligence against the retailer for the accident.

Mr Stennett, 63, sued after falling and injuring his knee while shopping in an Enniskillen branch in May 2006.

It was accepted that the slip was caused by a sugar spillage on the aisle floor.

Lawyers for the company argued, however, that a finding of liability should not be made against it.

They contended that a reasonable system of inspection and cleaning was in operation at the time of the accident.

A checkout manager testified that one of her duties was to carry out checks for spillages.

She told the court she did this by looking down each aisle from her area.  If anything irregular was seen by her she would take action.

She said she carried out these inspections some four times an hour.

Counsel for Mr Stennett claimed her actions were not a proper inspection.

In a ruling dealing only with the issue of liability, Mr Justice Maguire said there was no protocol or documentation to confirm all staff were told to be on the look out for spills and to take action.

He was left unimpressed with the check-out supervisor's  evidence that she simply inspected each aisle from a distance of up to 25 yards. 

Looking down the aisle without walking down it, in the court's estimation, is not likely to be an effective way of picking up potential or actual hazards," the judge said.

"The court concludes on the facts of this case that the defendant has not demonstrated that there existed on the day of the plaintiff's accident an effective and reasonable system of inspection."

He confirmed: "The plaintiff has established negligence on the part of the defendant.  He should, therefore, recover damages."

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