A fifty-four year old department store supervisor from Walkinstown in Dublin was shopping with her son in 2012 at the Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght. The woman took the lift to the ground floor. Shortly after the lift started it came to a sudden stop. The woman tried to summon assistance by pressing the alarm button, but was unable to reach anybody on the intercom, she banged on the lift doors and called for help. After a few minutes the woman and her son rescued by a shopping centre security guard. Despite the incident lasting less than five minutes, the woman suffered a recurrence of childhood claustrophobia.
Following the incident, the woman was unable to go into rooms without leaving the door open behind her. The woman found that she became anxious unless she was close to the exit of any room she entered. As a result the woman sought professional medical help and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. She then spoke with a solicitor and subsequently claimed emotional trauma as a result of the incident. The woman sued the shopping centre management and the maintainers of the lift.
The defendant disputed the amount of compensation she was claiming, and the case went to the High Court for an assessment of damages. At the hearing the judge, Mr Justice Anthony Barr, was told that an independent psychiatrist commissioned by the defendants had found no evidence of an anxiety disorder. However, the judge also heard that, since the incident, the woman has been under the care of a psychologist and has responded well to therapy that is expected to last for another eighteen months.
Judge Barr stated he was satisfied that the woman had suffered a psychological injury, and awarded her €25,060 in damages*.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
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