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Pretoria – What was supposed to be a lovely afternoon out having lunch with her husband and son at a posh restaurant turned into a nightmare for a Benoni woman, when she went to the toilet and tripped over a step, losing four teeth and injuring her spinal cord.

Crystal Ann Beaver blamed her misfortune on the owners of Villa Funchal in Benoni, who did not warn its patrons that when one opened the door to the toilet, a single stair led up to the cubicle.

She instituted a claim for R1.8million in damages against the restaurant.

Summons was issued in October last year against Villa Funchal, but to date no court papers setting out the eatery's defence had been filed.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, this week ordered (in the absence of a defence) that the owners of the restaurant were 100% liable for the damages which Beaver, 60, can prove she had suffered as a result of her fall.

Beaver said in papers before court that she and her family went to the “well established and well-known” restaurant for lunch on Sunday February 9, 2014.

They sat outdoors and she decided to go to the bathroom before having lunch.

There was a restroom with an outside entrance. She entered the first cubicle but did not notice that there was a 3cm step.

As she stepped inside she tripped over the step and hit her chin on the toilet seat. She fell with such force that her head and neck were flung backwards.

Beaver tried to call out as she fell to the floor and realised that she could not move her limbs.

“I was momentarily paralysed and I was traumatised and in shock.”

Someone eventually came to her assistance and called her husband and son.

The paramedics were also called and they immobilised her neck in a collar.

Because of the restricted space in the cubicle they had to attach the stretcher to her as she was lying. They then got her in an upright position before they could manoeuvre the stretcher out of the cubicle.

Beaver was taken by ambulance to the OR Tambo Memorial Hospital where she was told by a neurologist that she had suffered a severe spinal concussive injury.

According to her, she had endured a lot of pain ever since. Apart from the four teeth she had lost she could lose six more, her dentist told the court.

She also had bruises on the right side of her chin and below her chin.

Beaver said the restaurant owners had a duty to ensure that their establishment was safe for its visitors.

According to her, there should at least have been a notice warning patrons about the step.

Pretoria News