Supermacs Customer Awarded €16,400

A woman who claimed she injured her buttock, back and abdomen when she hit the ground, having fallen from a defective chair in Supermacs, has won her case for damages despite CCTV showing she did not impact the ground during the incident.

Pamela Dudgeon, (57) of Woodlands Grove, Coosan Road, Athlone, Co Westmeath, was awarded €16,400 in damages at Galway Circuit Court after a contested civil action. Ms Dudgeon, a carer, said she suffers ongoing lower back pain after the incident at a Supermacs outlet in Eyre Square, Galway, on January 6, 2017.

In her claim for damages, Ms Dudgeon told her doctor, solicitor and several expert witnesses she fell and hit the ground when the chair she was sitting on fell from under her.

During this week’s hearing, Ms Dudgeon repeated her beliefs that she fell suddenly and hit her buttock off the ground. Ms Dudgeon said she got up quickly as she was embarrassed and didn’t feel any pain initially.

She informed a member of staff at Supermacs about what happened and continued with her meal. However, she told the court that later as she made her way to the train station, she began to feel a twinge in her lower back and lower right buttock. Ms Dudgeon told the court that she developed a pain in her neck a few days later.

The incident happened on Friday, January 6, 2017, and Ms Dudgeon attended her GP on Monday, January 9. Her GP sent her for an x-ray and prescribed pain medication. As Ms Dudgeon continued to complain of pain in the following months, her GP then sent her for an MRI in April 2017, which showed she had a pre-existing degenerative condition that the court heard is common in people her age that can be symptomatic or not.

Footage shown to the court showed Ms Dudgeon sitting on the seat and momentarily lurching to the side, but she remained on her feet and stood upright immediately.

Ms Dudgeon said she continues to suffer back pain from the incident, especially when bending down and lifting things. She said that five years on, she has recovered significantly and has less reliance on pain medication.

Judge Eoin Garavan said Ms Dudgeon did not fall, but in this instance, this did not mean her case should fail. The chair had “snapped suddenly”, and while Ms Dudgeon did not fall to the ground, she would have expected her “buttocks to be embraced by the chair”. He said that “the chair is the mischief here”.

Citing medical evidence presented to the court, Judge Garavan said he was satisfied Ms Dudgeon had “a certain level of injuries from this matter”. He said the plaintiff had proved her case, she had suffered some injuries, and he assessed damages at €16,400.