Ex-university student loses zipline lawsuit

Devindra Rampersad -
Devindra Rampersad -

A former first-year university student who alleged she broke both her ankles when she slipped from a zipline at the University of the West Indies (UWI) “freshers week” activities in September 2016, has been ordered to pay the university’s costs after a High Court judge ruled she failed to prove liability.

Celine Ramsumair, then a first-year undergraduate student at the UWI, St Augustine, sued the university and the operators of the zip line rental service for negligence.

She claimed that while on the zipline ride, she felt her hands slipping and fell on an inflatable base, landing awkwardly. Her evidence, which included several medical reports, was that she felt and hear a snap and both ankles became swollen. The reports said she suffered fractures to the ankles and required surgery.

She contended there was a failure by the defendants to ensure the zipline activity was safe and also ensure that the inflatable base was sufficiently absorbent to cushion or minimise the effect of a fall.

However, in his ruling, in which he threw out the lawsuit, Justice Devindra Rampersad held that the “fact of a fall and injury” was not indicative of negligence.

He said Ramsumair alleged the cause of her injuries was the inadequacy of the inflatable base. However, he noted she failed to provide evidence to support her contention.

“Unfortunately, that statement was made by the claimant without the support of evidence to show that but for the inadequacy of the inflatable base, she would not have sustained the injury that she did.

“There was no description given by her of the state of the handlebars to suggest that it was unnaturally smooth or slippery. Therefore, the whole case lies on whether or not the inflatable base was sufficient to cushion her fall.”

Rampersad said Ramsumair had to prove that had the university and the zipline operators not been negligent, she would not have suffered the damage which she suffered.

“So, but for the inadequacy of the inflatable base of the zipline, would the claimant have suffered her injuries from her fall?

“Unfortunately, she has failed to prove that the cushioning was in fact inadequate other than to make a bare conclusion in her witness statement with absolutely no foundation or evidence to support same,” he said.

In ordering her to pay the university’s costs and that of the zipline operators, the judge, however, admitted the outcome was “unfortunate,” but said such claims must be supported by evidence.

He said the alleged deficiency of the zipline operation should have been investigated before the claim was filed. He also pointed out he had no occupational, safety and health report or any other independent report arising from any investigation into the cause of the Ramsumair’s injuries, particularly when it appeared she was the only one injured on the day and many others had used the zipline.

The judge made the cost order last week.

Ramsumair was represented by attorneys Yaseen Ahmed and Tara Lutchman while Jerome Maxime and Ariana Praboocharan represented the university while Carl Mattis represented the zipline operators.


"Ex-university student loses zipline lawsuit"

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