€65,000 award for hot water bottle burn

A woman who was left unable to wear high heels after she suffered a burn injury when a hot water bottle in her bed split open has been awarded €65,000 by the High Court.

Ann Marie McGee, of Meenlaragh, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, was 15 years old when the accident occurred 10 years ago.

She told the High Court yesterday she cannot wear high heels, and had to give up playing football and could not sit her mock Junior Cert exams immediately after the accident.

“It was very painful,” said Ms McGee. “I had to keep my foot in a basin of cold water all night.”

She told the court she had to go to hospital and the skin on her left foot bubbled up. She later developed septicaemia on the foot and could not wear socks or shoes for two months.

Ms McGee said she has been left with a permanent scar and is conscious of it.

“I still can’t wear heels,” she said. “The rim of the shoe catches on the burn.”

When the case was called before Ms Justice Mary Irvine, counsel for Ms McGee, Richard Lyons SC, said she had settled her case against Siopa Niall Ruaidh Teoranta, trading as Mace Supermarket, Gortahork, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and the matter before the court was against wholesale distributor, Peter McCallig, trading as McCallig Brothers at Mount Street, Claremorris, Co Mayo, for assessment of damages only.

Counsel said proceedings against the importer and supplier of the hot water bottle could be struck out.

It was claimed that Ms McGee’s mother bought the hot water bottle in Dec 2001. On Feb 4, 2002, Ms McGee, it was claimed, placed the bottle in her bed. She got in to bed and placed her foot beneath the bottle, which spilt open and poured the contents onto her foot.

It was claimed the accident occurred through the negligence and breach of duty of the defendants. The defendants denied the claims.

Ms Justice Irvine, who examined the scar on Ms McGee’s foot in her private chambers, said the woman had suffered excruciating pain when the hot water bottle split.

The judge said Ms McGee had a very bad three months after the accident, in which she developed septicaemia. The scar was permanent and while it was not terribly obvious, the judge accepted Ms McGee’s concerns about it. Ms McGee she said was also limited as regards the footwear she could wear.


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