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Companies that deal with the public have a wide-ranging duty to protect them from foreseeable risks of injury. However, in one case, a judge ruled that a toilet roll dispenser in a bingo hall lavatory did not constitute a predictable hazard.
A woman was preparing to go home after an evening's bingo when she went to the toilet and struck her shoulder on the dispenser. In seeking £1,600 in damages from the hall's operators, she argued that the accident had left her in agony and for the next six weeks she struggled to walk her dog or look after her two children. She claimed that the large size of the dispenser and its position within the cramped cubicle posed a foreseeable risk of injury.
In dismissing her claim, however, the judge noted that individuals are expected to look out for their own safety and it is obvious that one must take care in confined spaces. The easily identifiable dispenser was of a type used up and down the country and there was nothing about its dimensions that rendered it dangerous. The court observed that it would be a 'slippery slope' to view the dispenser as a hazard.