Northern Ireland

Asda liable for customer falling, High Court rules

Asda is liable for a shopper slipping and falling in a cafe where ten other accidents occurred over a two-year period, a High Court judge has ruled.

Mr Justice Maguire found the supermarket giant and a firm which operates the restaurant at its store in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh were both negligent.

A further hearing will determine the level of damages to be paid to Deirdre Williamson.

Ms Williamson, 45, sued both the retailer and Compass Group UK & Ireland Ltd over an accident she suffered in February 2011.

The court heard her feet went beneath her as she approached the counter of the first floor cafe at the Asda store.

She was holding a child by the hand and had no advance warning of any danger.

The fall led to her being taken to hospital for treatment.

According to Mr Justice Maguire's assessment, the most likely cause was water or moisture on the floor from a nearby refrigerated drinks unit.

He listed 10 similar incidents in the cafe area between December 2008 and October 2010.

They also involved people slipping on the floor.

"The record of past accidents strongly suggests there was a serious problem which required urgent attention," the judge said.

He identified no evidence that either defendant's managers considered taking action to deal with the problem, such as installing non-slip surfaces, moving the fridge or erecting warning signs.

"If such thought had been given the accident may have been avoided," Mr Justice Maguire pointed out.

Holding Asda and Compass Group equally liable over the "inertia", he confirmed: "The court finds each defendant guilty of negligence and/or breach of statutory duty which caused the accident which befell the plaintiff.

"The court will defer the issue of quantum of damages."