Brother v Brother: Case of the Red Bath Mat

Authors: Rebecca Stevens, Partner & Allison Bailey, Senior Associate

Blood is not always thicker than water as the recent decision of the District Court of New South Wales in Manmi v Manmi [2019] NSWDC 96 showed earlier this month.

The plaintiff sued his brother in negligence and breach of contract for injuries allegedly sustained when he slipped on a bath mat in the bathroom of the defendant’s house, fell backwards and struck his head and neck on the edge of the bath tub.

On its face, this is a relatively straightforward case - a slip and fall in a domestic setting heard in the District Court.

However, interesting and complex issues needed to be considered in relation to causation in circumstances where the plaintiff had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in the years prior to the alleged incident which the defendant argued was the real cause of the plaintiff’s fall. Also, the plaintiff sued his brother, with each man giving evidence to cast the other in a poor light and the defendant seeking to discredit the case.

The claim

The plaintiff alleged the defendant placed a mat on the bathroom floor that was slippery and he knew or ought to have known the mat was a slip hazard and unsafe. The plaintiff alleged the defendant had specific knowledge of the danger of the mat.

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