herald

Tuesday 15 October 2019

€67k for Aussie tourist who slipped down museum's stairs

Warren Baldwin
Warren Baldwin

An Australian tourist who injured his leg when he slipped and rolled down some stone stairs at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin has been awarded almost €67,000 by a High Court judge.

Warren Baldwin (70), from Revesby, just outside Sydney, New South Wales, ruptured a leg tendon in the accident.

Ms Justice Bronagh O'Hanlon said the museum's Portland stone steps were shiny and slippy and the victim suffered significant trauma, discomfort, inconvenience, expense and upset.

The accident occurred on the second day of Mr Baldwin's trip to Ireland with his wife.

It was caused by negligence in failing to provide a railing for a person to hold on to the entire way down the museum's seven-step staircase, the judge said.

The pensioner fell on the third last step from the bottom.

The judge accepted the contention that because the railing stopped before the end of the staircase there was a tendency for people to move toward the centre portion.

The steps date back to 1890 when the Kildare Street building was constructed.

The wrought iron banister topped by a wooden rail terminates at the third last step from the bottom where it joins a stone balustrade.

Ms Justice O'Hanlon found that had there been an adequate and safe handrail system on the steps in question, Mr Baldwin would not have suffered the injury. The museum failed in its duty to take reasonable care to ensure his safety, she said.

CCTV footage of the stairway and fall, the judge said, should have been preserved.

The National Museum of Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland

A museum employee who viewed that footage should also have been made available to give evidence.

Mr Baldwin sued the National Museum of Ireland as a result of the fall on June 5, 2016.

He alleged there was a failure to provide adequate hand railing and that the steps had been permitted to become unsafe and were polished smooth from wear and lacked anti-slip measures.

The claims were denied and the museum contended the stairs were free from defect and there was one handrail.

It also said there was contributory negligence on the part of Mr Baldwin who, it was claimed, was rushing.

Credible

More than 470,000 people visited the National Museum in 2016, and Mr Baldwin was the only person who fell on the marble stairs, it was argued.

Ms Justice O'Hanlon found no contributory negligence and said Mr Baldwin was a very credible witness, came to court in good faith and travelled from Australia for the trial.

She added Mr Baldwin's recollection of his fall, while inconsistent with the accident report form he filled in, was not inconsistent with the description of his fall when admitted to hospital.

The final award was €66,989.

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