An elderly Canadian woman who hurt her hip as she negotiated an ornamental timber bridge in an oriental restaurant has been awarded €100,000 by a High Court judge.
Catherine McKinnon (73) from Prince Edward Island was on a “bucket list” trip to Ireland tracing her Irish roots when the accident happened 10 years ago.
Mr Justice Michael Hanna said the injury suffered by Mrs McKinnon at Thai Orchid Restaurant, Navan, Co Meath has impacted very significantly on the pensioner.
He accepted she was an active and involved person before the accident and that her entire life has been significantly altered because of the injuries.
“She is now greatly diminished in her mobility and independence. Her enjoyment of life has been substantially diminished,” the judge said.
Retired teacher Catherine McKinnon, now aged 83 of North Wilshire, Prince Edward Island, Canada had sued Frank Mullen, the owner of the Thai Orchid Restaurant, Metges Lane, off Kennedy Road, Navan Co Meath as a result of the accident on June 1, 2011.
It was claimed Mrs McKinnon who was in Ireland with her two daughters and son fell heavily while traversing the ornamental bridge and the left side of her body struck the side of the bridge. The party were leaving the restaurant where they had had a meal on the last night of their holiday when the accident happened.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to warn the woman of the risk of falling and an alleged failure to ensure the steps were adequately illuminated.
The case was before the court for assessment of damages only after a judge had in 2013 given judgement to Mrs McKinnon in default of appearance by Mr Mullen.
Mr Justice Hanna said a remote hearing took place and Mr Mullen who represented himself appeared in person in court.
The judge said it was most unfortunate that Mr Mullen having got himself back on his feet as regards his business then found himself closed down as a result of the pandemic. But Mr Justice Hanna said in assessing damages he must be blind “to the means of the negligent party.”
In her evidence which she gave remotely from Canada to her counsel Barney Quirke SC instructed by Tiernan and Co solicitors, Mrs McKinnon said she was shocked and helped to her feet after the accident. The party moved on to another location but as she walked into the next premises her left side gave way and she collapsed to the floor in pain.
Mrs McKinnon was rushed to hospital where she needed a partial left hip replacement, and she spent twelve days in hospital. A left shoulder injury was later diagnosed when she returned to Canada.
Her daughter Michelle said her mother had changed significantly since the accident. She had been a strong matriarch who had instigated the trip to Ireland, but her adventurous spirit had now disappeared.
In the judgment published on Friday, Mr Justice Hanna said the fracture to Catherine McKinnon left lower limb is the more significant. He said it was and remains a serious injury and has given rise to considerable pain discomfort and has greatly debilitated Mrs McKinnon.”
“The impact of this injury on Mrs McKinnon and her everyday living is permanent and will remain so . This situation will not alter or improve,” the judge added.
Mr Justice Hanna awarded €50,000 for pain and suffering to date and another €50,000 for pain and suffering in the future.