A Gauteng woman who sued her son’s former fiancee after falling over a suspected loose tile and sustaining serious rib injuries not only lost her claim, but also saddled herself with a huge legal bill.
Charmaine Veronica Muller, 56, a former machine operator of Brackendowns, Alberton, instituted a R750 000 damages claim against her son Terrence’s former fiancee Jermaine Lawrence after an incident in March 2013 when she slipped and fell while visiting Lawrence’s townhouse to look after her grandson.
Muller, her son and Lawrence co-owned the townhouse and Lawrence still stayed there after she and Terrence broke up in 2012. She sold the property last year and retained the proceeds of about R200 000 in exchange for appliances her former fiancee took.
Muller maintained that Lawrence was in control of the property at the time and had a duty to maintain it and ensure the safety of visitors.
She claimed a loose tile on steps leading from the lounge outside had caused her to slip and fall, although she admitted that it was wet outside and that she could have fallen because the tiles were slippery.
Muller insisted she had only assisted her son and Lawrence to obtain a bond over the property and had no role in its control and administration. According to her understanding, Lawrence was responsible for almost everything pertaining to the premises, including the bond payment and insurance, after the separation.
She could not explain why she had told a doctor she had fallen on the stairs into a water fountain at her son’s house.
Lawrence said she regularly used the steps without incident and was not aware of any loose tile. She denied that she and Muller’s son had reached an agreement that she was solely responsible for the property and all three of them, in fact, undertook to repair certain items when the property was sold.
In the North Gauteng High Court, Judge Nelisa Mali said it was reasonably probably true that Muller had slipped because it was wet outside and she had failed to prove that there was a loose tile.
She dismissed Muller’s claim with costs, saying she did not want to speculate about the claim which appeared to have no basis at all.