06 October 2009
Supermarket must pay woman. 81, hurt in fall
A woman of 81 injured in a fall in a Melkbosstrand supermarket is entitled to claim damages from Pick n Pay, the Western Cape High Courts has found. Elizabeth Van Niekerk injured her back and her hip in the fall which was said occurred when her sandal, which had a kitten heel, become lodged in a metal grid covering a drain near the counter. She needed a spinal fusion and the pain had made her an insomniac, she said. She said the retailer had been negligent in not placing a suitable barrier in front of the counter or condoning off the drain cover.
Jude Vincent Saldanha ruled that Van Niekerk was entitled to such damage as she was able to prove arose from the accident on 4 December 2004. His judgment was only on the merits of the case. The amount of damages is to be dealt with separately. Van Niekerk has claimed R161000 in damages. Pick n Pay denied any knowledge of the incident and alleged Van Niekerk had failed to keep a proper lookout.
It acknowledged it was obliged to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of shoppers. Van Niekerk said that at the time of the accident she was fit and playing bowls. She conceded she had back operations and hip replacement. Bonita Maans, who worked behind the fish counter, assisted her when she fell. Maans told the court a rope barrier was in front of the counter and Van Nienerk had unhooked it so she could step closer to one of the tables. She said she had warned Van Nienek because she could see she was wearing high heels.
Judge Saldanha said Van Nienerk “impressed as particularly lucid in her recollection of the incident “, despite her age she stuck to her version in cross-examination and her version seemed the most probable. Maans’s testimony “appeared contrived”. Her recollections on certain details failed her. Judge Saldanha found no contributory negligence on Van Niekerk’s part.