Ferguson v Lyford Cay Members Club Ltd

JurisdictionBahamas
CourtSupreme Court
JudgeFred, J.
Judgment Date06 Jul 1999
Docket NumberCommon Law Side No. 50 of 1996

Supreme Court

Alfred, J.

Common Law Side No. 50 of 1996

Ferguson
and
Lyford Cay Members Club Limited
Appearances:

Mr. Michael Kemp for the plaintiff

Mrs. Macmillan-Hughes assisted by Ms. Benjamin for the defendant.

Tort - Negligence — Liability — Plaintiff claimed damages for personal injuries suffered when she slipped on a surface at the defendant employers premises — Bath v. British Transport Commission [1954] 1 WLR 1013 applied — No warning sign had been placed to indicate the danger — Judgment for plaintiff.

Fred, J.
1

This is an action in which the plaintiff in her Statement of Claim alleges that she sustained injuries as a result of an accident which occurred on or about the 1 st January, 1992 on the defendant's premises while she was performing her duties as a maid employed by the defendant. She alleges negligence on the part of the defendant and particularizes that negligence thus:–

  • a) Failing to take any or any reasonable care to see that the plaintiff would be reasonably safe while on the premises as an employee of the defendant.

  • b) Causing or permitting the passageway to be left slippery.

  • c) Causing or permitting the said passage to become and remain a danger and trap to persons lawfully using the premises.

  • d) Failing to give the plaintiff any or any adequate or effective warning of the slippery surface.

  • e) Permitting the plaintiff to walk along the said passageway when they knew or ought to have known that it was unsafe and dangerous to do so.

  • f) In the premises failing to discharge the common duty of care to the plaintiff.

2

The defendant does not accept that the accident occurred. In its amended defence file herein, after making no admission as to the occurrence of the accident the defence continues:–

3
    If, which is not admitted, the plaintiff did suffer the alleged accident, the defendant denies that the same was caused by the alleged or any negligence on the part of itself, it servants or agents as alleged in paragraph 2 of the Statement of Claim or at all. The defendant avers that the plaintiff was employed in its housekeeping department and had the responsibility of providing maid service. On the day in question, the plaintiff while getting towels and other linens decided to go to the cottage service via a route which required her to travel over stepping stones. It had rained for about ten (10) minutes before the alleged accident and it is likely that the said stepping stones were wet. 4. The defendant denies (i) that the premises were unsafe as alleged by the plaintiff or otherwise, (ii) that the passageway was slippery (iii) that the said passage was dangerous and/or an entrapment. 5. Further and/or alternatively, the defendant avers that if, which is not admitted, the said accident did occur, the same was solely caused or contributed to by the negligence of the plaintiff.
PARTICULARS OF CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE
3

The plaintiff was negligent in that she;

  • (v) failed to keep any or any proper lookout or to observe or heed the presence of the stepping stones;

  • (vii) failed to take heed of the fact that there had been light rain fall only 10 minutes before;

  • (viii) failed to use an alternative route when it was advisable to do so;

  • (ix) failed to take any sufficient steps to avoid falling;

4

The plaintiff was at the material times employed by the defendant as a maid. She worked in a area known as Cottage Services. Her hours of work were from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 pm. The cottages relevant to these proceedings are a set of cottages numbering from 80 onwards known as “the Eighties” and another set of cottages numbering from 90 onwards known as “the Nineties.” There were two (2) pathways leading from a building known as “Cottages Services” in which were kept the supplies for the servicing of the said cottages and to which maids were required to walk in order to collect the supplies necessary to carry out their functions. One pathway led directly to the ‘Eighties’ and the other directly to the ‘Nineties.’ The plaintiff was assigned to the cottages known as “the Eighties.”

5

Between the Cottage Services building and “the Eighties” there is a pathway comprised of stepping stones made of concrete and laid on a soil surface leading up to a paved roadway which passes between the said Cottage Services building and the cottages themselves. At the point where the pathway meets the said paved roadway there is a slope of such a nature that the first 2 stepping stones from the said paved roadway are not on a level with the roadway or the other stepping stones which form the pathway.

6

Having considered the evidence on the issue of whether or not the plaintiff did have “a slip” as alleged, I am satisfied that she did experience an incident while performing her duties as a result of which she was injured.

7

The plaintiff describes the incident which gave rise to this action thus:–

“It was around 10.00 p.m. or after 10.00 p.m. It rained for five to ten minutes between 9.00 p.m. and 9.15 p.m. I was going from the cottages to Cottage Services to get some towels and as I stepped off the road on the first slab, I put my right foot on the second slab. My right foot slide forward and my body went back on my left side. I continued to Cottage Services to get my towels and supplies. After checking the slab it was not on an even. It was slippery. It was not quite on level soil.”

8

The plaintiff has never claimed that she fell, only that her body went back to her left side. I find no merit in the defendant's contention that the plaintiff had a choice of paths to use or that no complaints...

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