Irish High Court denies compensation to hotel guest who fell out of bedroom window

The High Court held that a hotel guest who had opened his bedroom window to smoke illegally and who fell out of the window [rather than jumping out as had been alleged after a row with his girlfriend] lost his claim for compensation.

This despite the defendant being held to have been negligent in having two large panes in the bedroom window, akin to a door, either of which an adult could exit by, in failing to have a guardrail in front of the open window when the distance between window sill and floor was less than 800mm [here 600mm] as required under Building Regulations, in having a deep sill that could seem like a seat, and in failing to have any restraints on how wide the window could be opened.

However, the court dismissed the claim under s. 26 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 because it held the plaintiff, while suffering significant injuries, had materially exaggerated his injuries to gain large compensation. Video evidence was presented showing greater mobility than the impression given in court and to the expert witnesses. The court held the exaggeration was intended to mislead the court and so s. 26 applied.

A point of particular interest in the case concerned the issue of contributory negligence [which requires proportionate reduction of plaintiff’s damages], decided before the dismissal of the claim. The court held that the guest was only 40% blameworthy for his injuries and the hotel 60%. Perhaps a surprising split, but possibly explainable by the fact that under Irish law, the test of contributory negligence is, not the causative potency of the plaintiff’s actions, but the moral blameworthiness of those actions.

Case: Platt v OBH Luxury Accommodation, [2015] IEHC 793

Leave a Comment