Proceedings were commenced by a firm on behalf of Parker claiming damages for injuries she sustained when she fell on stairs at Bankstown RSL Club. Parker alleged she fell because the step of the stair was not sufficiently indicated. The stairs had strip lighting designed to illuminate the step and Parker contended the lighting was not operating at the time that she fell.
The experts who gave evidence in the case agreed that if the strip lighting was not on the step the step might present a hazard. Parker pleaded her claim against the Club in contract and in tort. She alleged that a term was implied into the contract between the Club and Parker that the Club would render services with due care and skill. Justice Adamson was of the view she did not need to distinguish between the tort and contract claim as the duties were relatively similar and co-existent.
The Club, as owner of the premises, owed a duty to those in the auditorium to take reasonable care to protect them from harm and to warn them of risks of harm that were not obvious. Justice Adamson concluded that where the Club knew that the light in the auditorium would be low because of the dimming or extinguishment of the house lights during a performance the risk of someone missing a step and falling was foreseeable and not insignificant.
Justice Adamson held: “A reasonable person in the position of the Club would have taken precautions against such risk of harm. I consider the precautions the Club in fact took – of installing metal strips along the edge of the tier and strip lighting below the edge were reasonably sufficient to avoid the risk of harm referred to above. Once the Club had taken such precautions the risk of harm became an obvious one and the Club was not, in my view, required to do any more to warn visitors to its auditorium of the change in levels.”
Parker had not proved that the stairs were not illuminated by the strip lighting. Parker argued in the alternative that the strip lighting, if it was on, was inadequate in any event.
It was held that the Club had not been negligent and that the accident was the result of the plaintiff’s own failure to take reasonable care for her own safety.