Ryanair's decision to make an injured air hostess pay for her flight home was not an aggravating factor in a €60,000 personal injury claim against the airline, a judge has ruled.
Judge Francis Comerford awarded cabin crew member Laura Albacete, from Manel Vidal, Vielha, Spain, €30,000 damages against Ryanair in the Circuit Civil Court.
She was injured when she tumbled down the rear steps of a Boeing aircraft.
Samantha Cruess Callaghan, counsel for Ms Albacete, told the court yesterday that her client fell from the top to the bottom of an air stairs, operated hydraulically from the rear of the plane, on a wet morning at Cork Airport on February 11, 2012.
Ms Cruess Callaghan, who appeared with Rose Sweeney of Coleman Legal Partners, said Ms Albacete struck her head and was knocked unconscious for a brief period.
Ms Albacete (28) said she was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital, where she was examined in the emergency department and found to have suffered a head injury and a sprained ankle.
She said that following treatment she decided to fly home to Spain to recover, but Ryanair insisted that she paid for her airfare.
Judge Comerford heard that Ms Albacete had suffered from headaches following her accident and had also sustained a possible post-traumatic optic neuropathy.
She remained in Spain for six months before returning to work but gave up the job she loved after a short period.
Ms Albacete said her life's dream had been to become an air hostess and to facilitate this she had taken on work as an au pair with Ms Gillian Molyneoux in Cork so as to polish up her English.
Judge Comerford said he accepted absolutely that the aeroplane was in good and proper condition and it had not been negligent of Ryanair to use it at the time.
Ms Albacete had been injured in an unfortunate fall on the stairs which, following the incident, had been found by a number of Ryanair staff, including the flight captain, to be wet and slippery.
The airline had no knowledge of these wet and slippery conditions prior to the accident.
The judge said that according to her evidence and medical reports, Ms Albacete was still suffering from headaches at least once a month, more than six years after the accident.
He said she had at least suffered amnesia immediately following the accident and may have been knocked unconscious for a brief time.
For pain and suffering and disruption to her lifestyle, he awarded Ms Albacete €21,000, with an extra €9,000 for difficulties she had experienced for a short time with her eyes following the fall.