Woman faces huge legal bill after losing case over alleged fall at clinic

A Dublin woman who sued the Blackrock Clinic after she claimed she tripped and fell over a kerb in the clinic grounds, twisting her back, has been left with a substantial legal bill after she yesterday lost her case.

Tina Altman, who represented herself in court, will now have to pay the legal costs of the Blackrock Clinic for the four-day action in the High Court.

Ms Altman, aged 60, of The Birches, Foxrock, had sued Blackrock Clinic Ltd, Blackrock, Dublin, as a result of the alleged fall on June 29, 2006.

She claimed she suffered a head injury and immediately afterwards had no movement in her legs except for some minor movement in her toes. She also claimed she had pain in her lower back and neck. She complained of headaches, facial pain, and arm pain after the accident.

Blackrock Clinic denied the claims and contended Ms Altman was the author of her own misfortune.

There was no doubt, Mr Justice Bernard Barton said, Ms Altman suffered injuries, which on a human level one had sympathy for, but he said she had failed to prove her case in accordance with law.

Mr Justice Barton said Ms Altman, who had driven in to the Blackrock Clinic to collect her mother, gave evidence that she was looking for a car-parking space when she saw a free space in the section reserved for staff.

She reversed in to the space and was on her way across the walkway when she turned back for her phone. Holding her handbag and phone, Ms Altman made to go across the walkway again when she said her foot caught on something.

The judge said Ms Altman claimed that large trees and bushes at the edge of the walkway made the area “like black dark” and she was certain her foot caught something like a kerb.

Mr Justice Barton said it was accepted by the defendant that the kerb was painted by a groundsman on a date after Ms Altman’s accident.

The judge said he had looked at CCTV stills from the 25 cameras in the Blackrock Clinic grounds but they were not of assistance as to the cause of Ms Altman’s fall because she was just seen “disappearing behind a large sign”.

He said Ms Altman was mistaken in her recollection that there was no pedestrian crossing. He said she was very familiar with Blackrock Clinic and, even if she had never been there before, the presence of the kerb and walkway were clearly visible.

The judge also awarded the costs of the four-day case against Ms Altman.


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