Judge Awards Woman 80% Compensation for a Fall in Dark Nightclub

A judge at the Circuit Civil Court has told a woman that she was 20% responsible for an accident at the Abberley Court Hotel in Dublin, and awarded her 80% compensation for a fall in a dark nightclub.

On 4th April 2010, Rita Walsh from Tallaght in Dublin had spent a pleasant evening with her daughters at the Level 4 Nightclub in the Abberley Court Hotel in Tallaght after enjoying a meal at a local Chinese restaurant. However, as the nightclub started to close, Rita tried to visit the bathroom and tripped over a step – badly injuring her shoulder when she fell.

Rita sought legal advice and claimed compensation for a fall in the dark nightclub – alleging that the management of the Level 4 Nightclub had turned out all the lights as the DJ finished, leaving the premises “pitch black”. The Abberley Court Hotel denied Rita´s allegations – arguing that the club had been fully illuminated during closing – and the case proceeded to court, where it was heard before Judge Alan Mahon.

In the hearing, Conor Murphy – a forensic engineer brought in to give an expert opinion on the lighting in the club – gave evidence that the overall lighting was inadequate to clearly identify the step in question, and that recessed lighting on the back of the step only made it visible from the direction opposite to that in which Rita was walking.

Judge Mahon accepted the forensic engineer´s evidence of the nightclub´s lighting as truthful, and said that although Rita´s allegations that the nightclub was “pitch black” were incorrect, it was also inaccurate that the management of the Level 4 Nightclub had illuminated the premises as the patrons were leaving, and more likely that the lights had been switched on only once Rita´s accident had occurred.

The judge also ruled that Rita must take 20% of the responsibility for her accident, as she admitted to having been drinking alcohol with her daughters at the nightclub and at the Chinese restaurant. He consequently reduced her compensation for a fall in a dark nightclub from €22,000 to €17,600.