Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Cook awarded $10m after slipping, falling on wet floor

Published:Monday | February 26, 2024 | 12:06 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

A Trelawny cook who suffered severe injuries to her neck and back after she fell on a wet floor at her workplace, nearly 11 years ago, has been awarded more than $10 million in damages.

The claimant, Elaine Allwood-Palmer, who was diagnosed with chronic widespread pain, myofascial, pain and neuropathy after the incident, has suffered from recurring pain in her neck and upper and lower back.

“Her sexual relationship has also been significantly impacted as she has been unable to engage in intimacy with her spouse. As a direct result of these challenges, her spouse has veered away from her to other women and has expressed a desire for a divorce,” her claim disclosed.

Following the conclusion of an assessment of damages hearing in January, the Supreme Court ordered Rose Hall Associates Partnership to pay Allwood-Palmer $10 million in general damages and $53,400 in special damages.

Both sums will attract interest at a rate of three per cent per annum from the March 9, 2013, date of the incident to the date of the order, January 29.

Allwood-Palmer filed a negligence claim against the company in August 2014, seeking damages for her pain and suffering and loss of amenities.

The claim also accused the company of breaching the Occupier’s Liability Act.

However, the defendant failed to file an acknowledgement of service in response to the claim, and consequently, a default judgment was entered against them in September 2015. The hearing for assessment of damages subsequently commenced in December 2013.

Allwood-Palmer, during her evidence-in-chief, recounted details of the incident, which happened while she was preparing grilled chicken for her station.

She said that on the day in question, she was preparing the meal when she entered the cold room area with a metal bowl in her hand and slid in bloody water, which had drained from the meat on to the floor.

The woman further testified that before the fall, she slid some distance and eventually landed on her back.

Immediately after, she said she felt the impact in her vagina and urinated on herself.

She recalled losing consciousness and regaining awareness after arriving at the nurses’ station.

The woman was seen by the nurse and sent home, but on her way from Montego Bay, St James, to Falmouth, Trelawny, she started experiencing pain from the neck down to her lower back and vagina.

Consequently, she sought medical treatment and was given a prescription after doing an X-ray.

MADE REDUNDANT

But due to ongoing pain, she was unable to return to work, and in 2015, was made redundant.

A medical summary from the Kingston Public Hospital indicated that Allwood-Palmer was diagnosed with chronic widespread pain, myofascial pain, and neuropathy.

One of the doctors who treated Allwood-Palmer reported that she had severe mechanical neck, upper back and lower back pain, which are recurrent. The doctor also diagnosed her with a nine per cent whole-person disability.

Attorney-at-law Sean Kinghorn, while highlighting what his client would permanently be experiencing, requested that damages be awarded for $10 million. He also asked the judge to bear in mind that his client had to make major lifestyle adjustments as a result of the lasting impact of the disability suffered.

Along with damages for special damages, the attorney also sought damages for handicap on the labour market but was refused as it was not pleaded in the claim particulars nor was an amendment done to have it included.

The judges noted that although the claimant has suffered a loss in this regard, “The effect of this failing is that the claimant would not have fully particularised her claim to place the defendant on notice of the relevant heads of damages under which awards were being sought.”

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com