It’s your fault, restau­rant tells in­jured pa­tron

Sunday Times - - News - BIÉNNE HUIS­MAN

A SUNNY lunch party at a hip restau­rant took a night­mar­ish turn when Ber­nice van Eck was knocked out by a fall­ing metal pole.

The 34-year-old fash­ion con­sul­tant and her friends were eat­ing sushi at one of Cape Town’s top seafood restau­rants when a 3.5m pole prop­ping up a canopy cov­er­ing the pa­tio fell and hit her on the head.

The in­ci­dent has ap­par­ently ru­ined the once bub­bly so­cialite’s life and has left her with ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain, anx­i­ety, black­outs and am­ne­sia for the past two years.

Van Eck sold her house to pay bills from neu­rol­o­gists, phys­io­ther­a­pists and psy­chol­o­gists and is now locked in a court bat­tle with Blow­fish, claim­ing more than R1mil­lion in dam­ages.

In pa­pers filed at the Cape High Court, Van Eck sub­mits that the Blow­fish Restau­rant in Blou­bergstrand was neg­li­gent by fail­ing to se­cure the poles when the in­ci­dent hap­pened on Septem­ber 26 2006. But the restau­rant has de­nied li­a­bil­ity, claim­ing she was neg­li­gent “by fail­ing to keep a proper look­out for any sign of the pole fall­ing”.

It also pointed out that due to an “en­ter at own risk” sign at the restau­rant’s en­trance, she had “ac­cepted the risk of an in­jury oc­cur­ring to her­self whilst on the premises”.

Brian Singer of the Singer Group — which owns Blow­fish — said this week he was “sur­prised” and had no inkling Blow­fish was be­ing hauled to court.

How­ever, Van Eck’s life has changed dra­mat­i­cally since the in­ci­dent. She has moved in with her par­ents; and is claim­ing for med­i­cal ex­penses, gen­eral suf­fer­ing and loss of in­come.

In court pa­pers she said her in­juries ham­pered her abil­ity to work as an up­mar­ket fash­ion con­sul­tant, and that she may be forced to re­tire early.

“I get black­outs: I’ll be driv­ing to Hout Bay for a de­liv­ery and end up in Muizen­berg not know­ing what I’m do­ing there,” she said. “ At times, when I was not al­lowed to drive, my fa­ther drove me to peo­ple’s homes . . . ”

The case is on the roll at the Cape High Court to­mor­row.

Pic­ture: TERRY SHEAN

BIG TOP­PLE: A tent canopy cov­ers the pa­tio at the Blow­fish Restau­rant in Blou­bergstrand, held up by a tall, un­se­cured metal pole

IN­JURED: Ber­nice van Eck is claim­ing over R1-mil­lion rand in dam­ages

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