A woman who tripped over her own dog while visiting a pet store and groomer has lost her claim for damages in the Supreme Court.
Arole Vickery claimed she broke her leg in the tripping on an edge of a doorway, but Mr Justice Tony O’Connor found evidence that she had tripped over her own dog.
Ms Vickery (61), Adare Drive, Coolock, sued Petzone Ltd, Coolock Village and the owner Kieran Stenson over the August 2014 accident that left her in hospital.
The defendants denied her claims, saying she had tripped over her own dog whom she had taken to the store’s groomer to have its nails trimmed.
On Friday, Judge Tony O’Connor rejected her claim.
The defendants, whose insurer is FBD, said they would not seek any charges from Ms Vickery.
The judge ruled that pharmacist Jennifer Rigney, who said she saw Ms Vickery fall while trying to avoid stepping on her dog, gave the most reliable account of what happened.
While he was impressed that Ms. Vickery admitted she couldn’t remember all the details and could be forgiven due to the passage of time, he was unimpressed that she couldn’t remember previous falls. The court heard she fell three times in 2014 and once in 2012 when she told her doctor she had also tripped over her dog.
Ms Vickery and her son Adam both claimed the dog had nothing to do with the fall, he said.
“Adam Vickery was surprisingly adamant about not letting Goldie (the dog) go before she fell,” he said.
He didn’t think Adam had deliberately fabricated details to support his mother’s claim, but it was surprising that someone who testified to having knowledge of “the building game” took no note of the condition of the step on which he claimed the fall took place.
The court heard that engineers from both sides agreed that the 33mm lip in the doorway did not pose an unusual hazard to most customers. The judge said Adam Vickery claimed it had changed since the accident, but there was no evidence that it had, the judge said.
The judge said the store owner, Mr Stenson, did not write anything about the accident himself after it happened or provided an incident report, but he had the presence of mind to ask Ms Rigney to make a note of what she saw.
The court relied mainly on Mrs. Rigney’s evidence.
Her account was the most reliable of all the factual evidence. She was vigorously challenged under cross-examination and remained admirably calm and collected in evidence and had no reason to be false, he said.
The fact that she was a tenant of Mr. Stenson through her dispensary did not suggest that she felt compelled in any way to report what had happened, he said.
The judge said the only issue that remained was Mr Stenson’s failure to disclose, as part of the pre-trial process, the existence of the note provided by Ms Rigney the day after the accident .
That would be dealt with as part of the court’s decision on who should pay the costs in early May. Miriam Reilly SC, on behalf of the defendants, said they will not seek charges.
However, the court may have to rule that the defendants may have to pay a portion of Ms. Vickery’s costs for failure to disclose.