A workplace accident award of €105,000 has been upheld by the Court of Appeal (CoA) for a former part-time supermarket staff member who sustained an injury when she fell while operating a pallet truck moving wares.
37-year-old Pamela Phoenix, who now lives in Canada, and formerly of McDonnell Drive, Athy, Co Kildare, took the workplace compensation against Dunnes Stores due to the accident that she had on September 18, 2006. Ms Phoenix was trying to shift the pallet truck in reverse through a cold room when she suddenly slipped and fell heavily, injuring her bottom and back.
A workplace accident compensation award of €105,929 was approved for Ms Phoenix in the High Court in 2016. The court agreed that she suffered chronic back pain and depressive symptomatology due to the supermarket workplace incident. By October 2007 she had gained a lot of weight. The judge said that he felt Ms Phoenix was a credible witness who did not exaggerate the suffering she experienced.
Dunnes Stores appealed the workplace compensation as, they argued, that the supermarket worker compensation award was excessive and disproportionately high.
Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, representing the three-judge Court of Appeal, upheld the supermarket workplace compensation award saying while it was probably in the upper range of what is normal, given the role of an appeallate court in other case law, the Court of Appeal cannot take any additional action in relation to this.
After the supermarket staff member accident Ms Phoenix was brought by ambulance to St Lukes’ hospital in Kilkenny. Her X-rays showed no serious damage and she was sent home with some pain-killing tablets. In the immediate aftermath of the the accident she had to use crutches to get around for a few days
She had difficulty returning to work with the same workload that she had tackled before the accident and changed jobs to a position with Elverys. In 2007, still experiencing a considerable amount of back pain, she departed that role. She also has difficulty in maintaining her studies at Maynooth University and became psychologically weak, eventually suffering from depression when she suffered a miscarriage n 2008. Following this Ms Phoenix moved to Canada to start a new life in 2013 where she married and had a baby in 2016.