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€16k award for ankle injury – Sligo Champion

Dunnes Store's Cranmore Road outlet Dunnes Store’s Cranmore Road outlet

A young man who injured his ankle while unloading goods from a lorry at Dunnes Stores has been awarded EUR16,701 in damages at the Circuit Court in Sligo. The award was made to Kieran McNasser of Old Bundoran Road, whom the court heard left the job shortly after the accident on July 9th 2012 at the store’s Cranmore Road outlet when his contract was terminated. Dunnes denied negligence but in her judgement, Judge Doirbhile Flanagan said it appeared to her that he wasn’t in any way at fault or had contributed to the accident when a pallet truck he was operating had struck his ankle.

Judge Flanagan said she wasn’t satisfied that the plaintiff had been afforded proper training. The Judge said the evidence from Dunnes management was about what would have happened regards training rather than what actually happened. No documents in relation to training was produced.

He hadn’t been provided with safety shoes and this in itself was in breach of Dunnes own safety statement and might well have lessened the injury. She said the pallet truck upon which fruit and vegetables were stacked high and which weighed about two tonne according to an engineer, was heavy and unwieldly. Costs were also awarded against Dunnes.

The incident was recorded by the store’s CCTV system and which was shown to the court. The plaintiff, who was represented by Mr Peter Daly BL instructed by McGovern Walsh, Solicitors, told the court that he had been working in Dunnes since October 2011 in the fruit and vegetable department. On the day in question a lorry arrived with fruit and vegetables from Dublin at 6.30pm and had reversed up to the back of the storeroom from where they were to be unloaded by a pallet truck and brought to the shop floor.

When he took up employment at Dunnes he was shown a short video on to lift boxes and jack up a pallet truck. He received no further instruction. Mr McNasser said two pallet trucks were used to unload the lorry.

The plaintiff recalled pulling his pallet up an incline and in to the store for transporting to the shop floor. A member of staff, Timothy Geoghegan came in behind the pallet truck and started pushing it and he was pulling it. The plaintiff said he couldn’t see Mr Geoghegan because of the height of the goods on the pallet, about ten feet.

He saw another pallet truck coming towards him and that was when he turned around to try to put his weight against the pallet to stry to slow it. The pallet truck didn’t have a brake. He wasn’t able to stop the pallet truck and it came into contact with his ankle and that was when it stopped.

“I knew he was pushing from behind because the force was more than me just pulling it,” he said. He was subsequently brought to the Emergency Department of Sligo University Hospital. He had suffered muscle damage and bruising to his ankle.

He had tenderness, redness and pain. There was no fracture or bony injury. His GP advised physiotherapy and swimming.

He didn’t return to playing soccer after the accident. He had a throbbing, stinging pain in his ankle which would be worse in the cold weather. This had eased after about six to seven months.

He still suffered stiffness and soreness in his ankle especially in cold weather. In reply to Mr Keith O’Grady BL with Ms Eitean Cunningham, solicitor (defending) Shortly after the accident he was told his contract wasn’t being renewed. Mr McNasser said the cause of the accident was the spped of the truck which built up against him and if he had been wearing safety boots these would have protected his ankle.

In order to stop a pallet truck a person had to put their weight against it. Tom O’Brien, engineer in evidence said: “In a nutshell it’s unsafe. It’s a tall, unwieldly load on a pallet of two tonnes approximately and you are moving it along on a device without a braking mechanism in circumstances where the plaintiff was heading for a corner.”

Mr Geoghegan, a store superviser, said he had pushed the pllet truck up on to the ramp and on to the main floor while the plaintiff was pulled it from the front. He said there was no major weight on the pallet truck. He let go from pushing after asking the plaintiff was he okay.

He agreed that according to the company’s safety statement, all employees should wear safety shoes but these weren’t provided. Gillian McClean told the court all new employees would have got a seven hour induction and this included training in manual handling and lifting. The witness said that on July 5th, four days before the accident the plaintiff was told that his contract wasn’t being renewed which was due to be up on July 18th.

Witness did not recall the plaintiff coming tot he store a short time after the accident and asking for a copy of an accident report form which he didn’t receive.

Judge Flanagan said she was satisfied that the evidence of the plaintiff was confirmed essentially by the CCTV footage. “It appears to me there was a combination of factors on the day.

The plaintiff was pulling and Mr Geoghegan was pushing and neither could see each other.”

Sligo Champion

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