A woman who slipped on a manhole cover while on a family day out to Dublin Zoo dislocating her ankle has been awarded almost €115,000 by the High Court.

Gwen Leost Kane, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said, suffered a fracture dislocation of the right ankle and was in a plaster of paris for seven weeks and on crutches for 16 weeks.

The judge said he was satisfied Ms Kane had given a fair and accurate account of her symptoms and disablement from the time of the accident to the present time.

She had suffered extreme pain at the time of the accident on her son’s first birthday in 2011 and cannot now take part in Breton folk dancing, cycle, or walk long distances.

She had been pushing her son Gabriel’s buggy outside the sea lion enclosure when the accident happened.

“My ankle was completely shattered. It was a terrible feeling. I was on the ground in the rain for an hour waiting for the ambulance”, she had told the court, but said zoo staff and members of St Johns Ambulance tended to her.

In evidence Ms Kane said she fell backwards after slipping and heard her bone crack.

“It has affected my life a lot. I used to wear a lot of high heels. It was a happy family day out and we were going to go home and take photographs for my son Gabriel’s birthday,” she said.

Ms Kane, aged 43, from Beechdale Court, Firhouse, Dublin had sued the Zoologicial Society of Ireland over the fall while on a visit to the Zoo at Phoenix Park on June 12, 2011. She claimed that there was a failure to adequately supervise the premises to ensure the sea lion enclosure and its surrounding amenities, visitor walkways, and viewing area were safe for persons expected to walk through that area even in wet weather.

She also claimed an accumulation of rainwater had been permitted on a pedestrian walkway and the metal manhole cover.

Mr Justice Barr was told liability was admitted in the case and it was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Making the award, Mr Justice Barr said that Ms Kane’s progress since the accident had been set out in medical reports and she continues to experience pain in the right ankle on a daily basis.

“She is not able to walk long distances, nor to cycle her bicycle. This has been a cause of distress to her as she used to participate in charity walks and charity cycles prior to the accident.

“She is not able to run, nor can she walk on uneven ground or on wet grass or sand. She is unable to participate in Breton dancing which she had done prior to the accident,” he said.

The judge said he accepted the evidence that these symptoms will be permanent.

The judge also noted Ms Kane has been left with two scars 10cm and 7cm long on either side of her ankle.

He awarded €105,000 in general damages and for pain and suffering to date and in to the future.

Mr Justice Barr also allowed special damages of €9,988, bringing the total award to €114,988.


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