Teacher sues venue owners after slipping on wedding disco dancefloor
Teacher, 35, sues the owners of country mansion for £150,000 after she slipped on a spilt drink on the dancefloor at a wedding disco and smashed her elbow
- Cara Donovan was in agony after falling and smashing elbow on laminated floor
- She has been left with permanent arm pain since accident in September 2018
- Mrs Donovan is now suing the wedding venue for a payout of up to £150,000
- Dancefloor supplier warned of slippery surface and said not to drink while on it
- Mrs Donovan claims the venue failed to follow the warning and take extra steps
- Defence to the action by the parent company was not available from the court
- Mrs Donovan’s claim has not yet been tested in evidence by a judge
Cara Donovan, 35, was left in agony after falling and smashing her elbow while dancing on a ‘highly slippery’ laminated plastic floor, lit by underfloor LED lights
A teacher is suing the owner of one of the UK’s top marriage venues for £150,000 after she slipped on a spilt drink on a wedding disco dancefloor and smashed her elbow.
Cara Donovan, 35, was left in agony after falling while dancing on the ‘highly slippery’ laminated plastic floor, lit by underfloor LED lights.
The wedding reception was held at Leez Priory, an award-winning 16th century Tudor mansion near Chelmsford, Essex, which has repeatedly been voted the UK’s Best Wedding Venue.
Special needs teacher Mrs Donovan lost her footing in a puddle of spilt drink as she stepped onto the state-of-the-art ‘twinkling dancefloor’ in the cellar of the country manor house, nestled in 40 acres of parkland at Great Leighs.
The accident in September 2018 left her with a badly broken elbow and despite three operations says she has been left with permanent arm pain.
This impacts on all areas of her everyday life at home and has prevented her returning to work at school, she said.
Mrs Donovan is now suing Country House Weddings Ltd, the company which runs the venue, for a payout of up to £150,000.
According to papers filed at the High Court, the dancefloor had been purchased and fitted in the cellar of the manor house, which was built in the 1500s on the site of a 13th century Augustine priory and visited by Queen Elizabeth I.
The supplier had warned that the surface of the dancefloor was very slippery and that no drinks should be taken onto it, the teacher’s lawyers claim.
However, nothing was done to prevent people drinking on the dancefloor, Mrs Donovan says, and even the wedding venue’s advertising photos showed people dancing with drinks.
Special needs teacher Mrs Donovan (pictured with husband Lee Pierson) lost her footing in a puddle of spilt drink as she stepped onto the state-of-the-art ‘twinkling dancefloor’ in the cellar of the country manor house
Mrs Donovan (pictured with husband Lee Pierson) is now suing Country House Weddings Ltd, the company which runs the venue, for a payout of up to £150,000
‘During the evening guests would go onto the dancefloor – either to cross it or to dance – holding glasses of drink and occasionally spilling drink onto the dancefloor,’ says her barrister, Philip Goddard.
‘The dance floor became wet with patches of spilt drink. The dancefloor’s underfloor lights made it difficult for those on the dancefloor to see spilt liquid on the surface.
‘At about 10pm, the claimant went onto the floor to dance. She slipped in the spilt drink, fell and fractured her right, dominant, arm.’
The Romford mother-of-two had three operations to fix the break, but her arm has been left permanently painful, stiff and weak, hampering her ability write, drive, use a keyboard or use any two-handed machinery.
‘She would like to return to teaching, but is inhibited by the injury,’ says Mr Goddard.
‘A fourth operation may be needed to remove a bone fragment, but its present condition is unlikely to improve.’
Mrs Donovan blames the company for what happened to her, claiming the venue’s owner failed to follow the dance floor supplier’s ‘no drinks’ warning and failed to have staff positioned at the top of the stairs to prevent people taking drinks to the dancefloor.
Tables had also been placed at the edge of the dancefloor, encouraging guests to drink while dancing, Mr Goddard claims.
The wedding reception was held at Leez Priory, an award-winning 16th century Tudor mansion near Chelmsford, Essex, which has repeatedly been voted the UK’s Best Wedding Venue
And despite the spillage, staff had not stopped guests dancing in order to mop it up, it is claimed.
The defence to the action by Country House Weddings Ltd was not available from the court and the contents of Mrs Donovan’s claim have not yet been tested in evidence by a judge.
The company runs weddings at five other country houses in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Essex, Warwickshire and Cambridgeshire.
It says: ‘We are proud to own our beautiful venues and believe that one of the keys to our success is that our couples can trust the Country House Weddings brand and enjoy the security that our success brings.’
Describing the cellar disco where the incident took place, the company adds: ‘The converted cellar now offers a modern and contemporary space in which to dance the night away.
‘Following a formal and traditional day, amaze your guests when they come downstairs to the spacious disco-lit dancefloor with vaulted ceiling above.’
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