Landlord ordered to pay tenant €40,615 in damages after ceiling collapses

A woman has been awarded €40,615 in damages after a portion of the ceiling in her rented accommodation in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, fell on her head and back.

The defendant, Eamon Clohessy, was the landlord of plaintiff Ms Concepta Collery and accepted that there was a duty to keep the premises in good repair.

The essential dispute was whether the plaintiff actually suffered personal injuries as a result of the incident.

The plaintiff stated that a portion of the plaster work fell down and struck her on the head and on the back of her neck.

The defendant’s version was that the plaintiff stated to him both in a telephone message on his voicemail and subsequently to him in person, that luckily she was putting her dinner in the microwave, otherwise she could have been injured by the falling plaster.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Barr first determined liability.

He noted that the defendant accepted in evidence that on one occasion the plaintiff had made a complaint to him concerning cracks in the ceiling, and that he had asked her to keep an eye on it and let him know if the situation deteriorated.

The Judge also noted the photos shown by the plaintiff, demonstrating the cracks in the ceiling on dates prior to the night in question.

He found that as the issue of the ceiling had been brought to the defendant’s attention, it was his responsibility to ensure that the premises were made safe. He was therefore liable for any injuries.

In determining quantum, the Judge noted that, although the answer phone message had been deleted, the Judge accepted that the plaintiff had said she could have been injured when she spoke to the defendant.

However, as the plaintiff had stated in evidence that she had originally thought the pain would pass, the statement did not mean that she had not received any injury.

The Judge then reviewed the medical history provided by the plaintiff.

He found that she had suffered an injury to her neck as a result of the collapse of the ceiling.

While symptoms may not have been immediately apparent, it would appear that she suffered the onset of symptoms in the weeks following the incident.

The plaintiff went on to experience significant pain in her neck.

The Judge noted that the injury was confirmed by MRI scan on 31st March, 2015, which confirmed a broad based disc at C5/6 which was impinging on the spinal cord and a disc at C6/7 in her neck.

The Judge took into account that that the plaintiff had a reasonable amount of physiotherapy treatment in the past.

He noted the most medical opinion from Dr. Rochford on 6th July, 2015, which stated that surgery was not indicated at present. The doctor was of the opinion that the plaintiff would benefit from a further course of physiotherapy and a home exercise programme and together with analgesia, the doctor expected that this would provide the plaintiff with relief in time.

After so finding, the Judge awarded the plaintiff general damages for pain and suffering to date €30,000; and general damages into the future in the sum of €10,000; together with agreed special damages in the sum of €615.

  • by Rachel Killean for Irish Legal News
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