Judge Francis Comerford in the Circuit Civil Court awarded cabin crew member Laura Albacete, from Manelvidal, Vielha, Spain, €30,000 damages against Ryanair. She was injured when she tumbled down the rear steps of a Boeing aircraft.
Samantha Cruess Callaghan, counsel for Ms Albacete, told the court her client had fallen from the top to the bottom of an air-stairs, operated hydraulically from the rear of the plane, on a wet morning at Cork Airport on February 11, 2012.
Ms Cruess Callaghan, who appeared with Rose Sweeney of Coleman Legal Partners, said Ms Albacete had struck her head and had been knocked unconscious for a brief period.
Ms Albacete, 28, said she had been taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where she was examined in the emergency department and found to have suffered a head injury and a sprained ankle.
She said that following treatment she had decided to fly home to Spain to recover and Ryanair had insisted on her paying for her airfare.
Judge Comerford heard she had suffered from headaches following her accident and had also sustained a possible post-traumatic optic neuropathy.
She had remained in Spain for six months before returning to work but had given up the job she loved after a short period.
Ms Albacete said her life’s dream had been to become an air hostess and to facilitate this she had taken on work as an au pair with Gillian Molyneoux in Cork to polish up her English.
Judge Comerford said he accepted absolutely that the aeroplane was in good and proper condition and it had not been negligent of Ryanair to use it at the time. Ms Albacete had been injured in an unfortunate fall on the stairs which, following the incident, had been found by a number of Ryanair staff, including the flight captain, to be wet and slippery.
The airline had no knowledge of these wet and slippery conditions prior to the accident.
He said that according to her evidence and medical reports Ms Albacete still suffered, six years after the accident, from headaches at least once a month.
The judge said she had at least suffered amnesia immediately following the accident and may have been knocked unconscious. For pain and suffering and disruption to her lifestyle he awarded her €21,000 with an extra €9,000 for difficulties she had experienced for a short time with her eyes.