‘As a result, Kathryn Strong, an amputee who walked with the aid of crutches, fell heavily to the floor of a food court area in September 2004 and suffered a serious spinal injury.’
She was awarded damages of $580,299.
Woolworths took the case to the NSW Court of Appeal, disputing their responsibility for the injury. That court ruled in favour of Woolworths, finding Strong had failed to ‘prove on the balance of probabilities that its negligence caused her fall’.
‘As the chip was probably deposited at lunchtime it could not be concluded that had there been a dedicated cleaning of the area every 15 minutes, the accident might not have occurred, the court found.’
However, the High Court today ruled the NSW Court of Appeal finding was wrong.
‘In a majority decision, four of the court’s judges said reasonable care required inspection and removal of slipping hazards at intervals not greater than 20 minutes in the sidewalk sales area, which was adjacent to the food court.’
‘On the balance of probabilities, Strong would not have fallen but for the negligence of Woolworths.’ The decision restores the original verdict from the NSW District Court and is another timely reminder for all shopping centre cleaning staff and BSCs to be vigilant and thorough in their cleaning processes.