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Woman awarded $170k over kink in shop mat

Anti-fatigue-mats-flooring-bumptop-warehouse.jpg

Pamela Kime, aged in her 60s, told the NSW District Court she still feels pain and restriction of movement in her right limbs four years after the incident in Salamander Bay Shopping Centre, north of Newcastle.

Only after falling on the mat at the centre's entrance in January 2017 did she notice a hump in it about 10 to 15 centimetres high, the court was told.

She took the centre management and its cleaning contractor to court, alleging they were negligent in managing the mats.

Mrs Kime also sought damages for the injuries caused, past and future domestic assistance and other issues.

The centre and contractor both denied all allegations of negligence and, if the court found otherwise, claimed the woman had also been negligent.

After viewing CCTV and hearing from witnesses to the incident, Judge Leonard Levy found the mat was "either left kinked at the time of roll-out, or became kinked as customer and trolley traffic passed over it".

The fact Mrs Kime fell on a humped section suggested that it had been present for some time, he said, discounting evidence from staff that they had inspected the mats and seen no hump.

"The evidence overwhelmingly supports the finding that, on a prospective view, the risk of harm of tripping on laid-out but kinked wet weather mats ... was plainly within the reasonable recognition and contemplation of both defendants," the judge said.

The centre's system of inspecting wet weather mats every 15 to 20 minutes was deemed "inadequate" while the contractor's staff were found to have not undertaken "reasonable and identifiable steps" to inspect and correct for kinks, despite being in the area.

Mrs Kine, who the judge found to be a credible witness, testified she had difficulty walking more than 30 minutes and doing commonplace activities about the house, such as negotiating stairs, using ladders or kneeling.

"Whilst knee replacement surgery may alleviate some of those problems, it is uncertain as to whether she will be able to return to a full range of activities post-surgery," the judge said in the April 8 decision.

He awarded $2,054 in past expenses, $35,000 for pain relief and eventual right-knee replacement and $135,000 for pain and suffering.

That bill, and Mrs Kime's legal costs, will be split 60-40 by the shopping centre and its contractor.

© AAP 2021

Photo: illustrative purpose only https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anti-fatigue-mats-flooring-bumptop-warehouse.jpg