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Court Overturns €56,000 Award To Woman Scalded By Tea

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Eva Cekanova, a 31 year old Slovakian native has had her damages award overturned by the court of appeal. Ms Cekanova was intially awarded €56,000 after she was scalded when trying to make tea in a glass jug.

Ms Cekanova sued Dunnes Stores for negligence for selling the jug.  She suffered scald wounds and blisters. She has also been left with scarring.

Ms Cekanova also claimed that it suddenly, without warning shattered, showering her legs. Dunnes Stores denied these allegations. They also claimed that Ms Cekanova failed to heed their warnings that were clearly on the jug’s sticker. It claimed the warning had stated not to use hot water in the jug.

The orginal court hearing:

In December 2019, Ms Cekanova was awarded €56,000 in damages. The judge accepted it was a custom in Slovakia to make tea in glass jugs. They ruled Dunnes Stores were 75% neglegent in selling the jug and made from a non-tempered glass without a warning label.

They stated that a warning label should have been attached to the jug against using it for liquids. Ms Cekanova’s claim was accepted that she would not have bought the jug if it had such a label.

“Boiling or hot water has the potential to shatter”

However today, a three judge independant appeal court found no evidence to support the conclusion of the High Court that Dunnes were neglegent in their sale of the jug.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan ruled it is well known that boiling or hot water has the potential to cause damage to a person. He stated it was, “universally known by reasonable adults of normal intelligence that boiling or very hot water has the potential to shatter an ordinary glass vessel”.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan rejected Mr Judge Cross claims that the jug was “meant” to have a label on it. He added that there was no evidence that Dunnes knew or should have been aware that that Slovakian nationals might buy glass jugs for such purposes.

Ms Cekanova gave evidence, claiming that in her native country, “we normally use a big glass jug for making tea”. Mr Justice Noonan said that, there was no evidence that Dunnes should have known that Slovakian nationals might buy glass jugs for tea making.

Mr Justice Noonan also added that Ms Cekanova should have been aware that people in Ireland usually use tea pots. If using glass jugs to make tea was a custom that Dunnes should have been aware of, it was surpising that out of roughly 11,000 glass jugs that Dunnes have sold. No other similar complaints have been made.

Mr Justice Noonan also remarked that if such a safety warning was needed, it would have been engraved permanently on the jug. A label would have washed off after its first use.

The ruling:

Due to this, as well as other findings, Justice Noonan accepted Dunne’s appeal. Eva Cekanova’s claim was subsequently dismissed. He also said that Dunnes would be entitled to its legal costs in the High Court and COA against Ms Cekanova.