At the High Court on yesterday Justice Michael Hanna was told how five individual suffered injuries the the elevator they were travelling in fell three storeys into a basement.
In the aftermath of the accident, which occurred at take Killarney Plaza Hotel in Co Kerry, the injured parties had to cry to assistance for some 15 minutes until it was possible to open the doors. Patricia O’Leary, one of the people involved in the accident, informed the Judge that she was conscious of her leg breaking when the elevator hit the ground. The rescue team had to cut her free from the wreckage.
The accident occurred when the group of people were going back to their bedrooms following a wedding reception on July 9, 2011. The legal action was taken against the hotel owners, Shawcove Ltd with registered offices at Castleisland, Co Kerry and the businesses involved in installing and maintaining lifts, Ellickson Engineering Ltd, in receivership, of Kilmurry, Waterford; Kilell Ltd also of Kilmurry,and Otis Ltd and Otis Elevator Ireland Ltd, both of Naas Road Business Park, Dublin. Additionally they sued lift components manufacturer Daldoss Elevetronic Spa of Valsugana, Italy. Liability was conceded in 2019 and the case is before the court for assessment of damages.
In the action, it is alleged there was a failure to see to it that the intended pathway from the car park was safe and free from any danger. There was also an alleged failure to install a proper functioning lift from the car park to the hotel.
Ms O’Leary (42), a former garda sergeant Ms O’Leary and mother of two, told the Court that her injuries forced her to retire from he jon five years after the accident when she was just 37. The other plaintiffs were members of her extended family including her husband, Andrew Meehan(also a garda sergeant), his brothers Paul and Kevin, and Kevin’s wife Jennie Wong.
Ms O’Leary, whose case is being heard first, informed the court the lift tried to stop at the floor but was unable to do so. She said: “It was a very violent drop to the floor“It shuddered and there was a loud bang. The lift dropped slightly and stopped for a split second. Then it just dropped to the concrete basement floor. The walls of the lift came in around us. I could see Andrew and Kevin were badly injured. It was very traumatic.
She told the Judge a panel came down on top of her when she reached for the emergency button and phone. She went on to explain how two porters found them and her brother-in-law Paul Meehan helped pull the doors open and remove the the lift walls off her until the emergency services came to the scene.
Ms O’Leary sustained injuries to her leg, ankle, knee and chest. Due to the accident she now must use a spinal cord stimulator to alleviate the pain that she still experiences on a daily basis. Representing Mrs O’Leary in court Richard Kean SC, with Barney Quirke SC, stated that there has never been an apology offered to his client in relation to the catastrophic injuries. He added that the injuries have been life changing and forced her to leave her job.
The Judge was also informed that Ellickson Engineering Ltd, now in receivership, was fined €750,000 in 2017 after it was found guilty at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court of a single breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act over the installation of the hotel lift in and around April 2004.
The case continues.