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Monday 5 December 2016

Woman trapped in lift for four minutes is awarded €25,000

The Square in Tallaght
The Square in Tallaght

A woman trapped in a shopping centre lift for just over four-and-a-half minutes has been awarded €25,060 by the High Court.

Mother-of-three Marie Dicker suffered a direct psychiatric injury as a result of the incident, which led to the resurfacing of childhood claustrophobia, Mr Justice Anthony Barr said.

Alarm

She sued the Square Management Ltd and Pickerings Lifts Ltd over the incident at The Square shopping centre, Tall-aght, on August 31, 2012.

Ms Dicker (54) told the court she felt like she had been trapped for 20 minutes, but CCTV from the lift showed she was there for four minutes and 35 seconds.

The court heard she was out shopping with her young son when they got into the lift to go down to the ground floor.

When it stopped after moving a short distance, she pushed the button to open the doors but they remained closed.

She said she pressed the alarm bell, but nobody responded. She banged on the door and shouted, but no one seemed to hear her.

She rang her husband, who suggested she ring 999. While doing so, a member of the centre security staff managed to open the doors and she and her son got out.

She said she was not treated very well at the Square's customer service desk. She was given lunch vouchers to use in the centre and told she would be contacted but said she was not.

Ms Dicker, a department store supervisor, was upset and distressed partly due to the fact that she had, as a child, suffered from claustrophobia.

Subsequently, she was not able to go into rooms without leaving the door open. She could not go into fitting rooms in shops as she could not bear to have the door closed.

In public toilets, she had to prop her handbag against the door rather than lock it for fear it would not open again.

Panic

She was unable to travel in lifts at all and would have to be near the exit in any room she entered.

Ms Dicker, of Cherryfield Road, Walkinstown, came under the care of a psychologist who found she still suffered from anxiety, claustrophobia and panic attacks related to the lift incident.

Mr Justice Barr said he was satisfied she suffered a psychiatric injury as a direct result of being trapped in the lift.

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