The High Court has awarded a woman who suffered a recurrence of childhood claustrophobia €25,060 compensation for being trapped in a shopping centre elevator.
Fifty-four year old Marie Dicker – a department store supervisor from Walkinstown in Dublin – was visiting the Square Shopping Centre in Tallaght on August 31, 2012, when she took the elevator to travel down to the ground floor.
Soon after the elevator started to descend, it suddenly stopped. Marie banged on the door and shouted for help after finding the elevator´s alarm button unresponsive. Eventually a security guard heard the noise and was able to release her.
Although she had been trapped in the elevator for fewer than five minutes, the upsetting incident resulted in Marie suffering a recurrence of childhood claustrophobia. She was unable to go into rooms without leaving the door open behind her and had to remain close to the exit of any room she entered.
Marie sought professional medical help and was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, anxiety and depression. She then spoke with a solicitor and made a claim for compensation for being trapped in a shopping centre elevator against Square Management Ltd and Pickering Lifts Ltd.
The two defendants admitted that there had been a breach in their duty of care, but contested how much compensation for being trapped in a shopping centre elevator Marie was claiming. The case consequently went to the High Court for an assessment of damages and was heard by Mr Justice Anthony Barr.
At the hearing, Judge Barr was told that Marie has been under the care of a psychologist since the incident and has responded well to cognitive behaviour therapy. However, the defendants claimed that Marie showed no signs of anxiety when she was evaluated by a psychiatrist on their behalf.
After being told that Marie´s treatment is expected to last a further twelve to eighteen months, Judge Barr said he was satisfied that the incident had caused a recurrence of Marie´s childhood claustrophobia and he awarded her €25,060 compensation for being trapped in a shopping centre elevator.