A 40-year-old Dublin woman has told a judge she got lost for three hours in Ikea’s warehouse in Ballymun, Dublin, after having been struck on the head by a falling flat-pack.
Hanan Tababi of Mangan Road, Dublin 8, said it took her nearly three hours to find the exit of the warehouse after her injury.
Ms Tababi said she had been shopping for a chest of drawers in the “bargain corner” of Ballymun’s Ikea warehouse in March 2016 when she was struck by a large box containing flat-pack furniture.
She told the court she had pulled a small box towards her to check the label and a much larger box had tipped over and hit her, injuring her head and left shoulder.
The following day, she visited the emergency department of St James’s Hospital as she had been experiencing pain and ongoing dizziness, as well as numbness in her left hand.
She was diagnosed as suffering from soft tissue injuries to her neck and shoulder and later referred for an MRI and CT scan. Ms Tababi had lost her job in Apple as an IT technical support person as a result of her injuries.
She had also suffered mentally as a result of the accident, having been diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder after experiencing intense anxiety and low mood in the months that followed.
Ms Tababi stated that she had been having nightmares about things falling on her or her children. She had also experienced financial hardship due to her inability to work and had considered cancelling her wedding as she felt she could not afford it.
Ms Tababi claimed the flat-pack furniture boxes had been leaning against a wall of the warehouse like “books in a bookshelf”. She said she had been inspecting the label of a small box when a box she believed to be nearly three metres tall toppled, knocking her down to her knees.
She felt this incident was a result of negligence, as she claimed there had been no staff in the area to assist her, no signage to warn her of danger and no strapping holding the box in place to prevent it from falling.
An Ikea Ireland Limited representative strongly disagreed with these statements, saying that according to the training received by every Ikea employee any object over 1.2 metres in height must be secured by strapping, adding that this had been the case at the time of Ms Tababi’s accident.
The court heard most of the flat-pack furniture had been stored in a metal structure and held in by yellow strapping which has been in use since Ikea first opened in the country, whereas the overflow had been anchored to a wall of the warehouse using this strapping.
The Ikea representative also insisted every area of the warehouse had received adequate supervision on the day in question.
The defendant told the court it was unlikely Ms Tabibi’s accident had occurred in the way she described based on Ikea policies and the way in which she had said the box had struck her.
Mr Patrick Culliton, a witness for the defendant, said the flat-pack box could not have fallen spine first as Ms Tabibi had claimed and would not have seriously injured her as she was so close to the box it would not have been able to accelerate in any meaningful way.
Judge Cormac Quinn ruled in Ms Tabibi’s favour on the basis that throughout every Ikea outlet, the majority of products are stored horizontally and clearly labelled. This allows customers to find what they are looking for without any rummaging or rearranging of the displays.
However, in the “Bargain Corner” of this Ikea, the boxes had been stored vertically which the court had heard could have been a danger to customers if the items were not properly stored and secured.
Judge Quinn said that whilst there had been systems in place to prevent accidents such as this one from happening, they clearly had not been in effect at the time.