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Dog walker sues city council after plunging into quarry

A WOMAN who says she plunged into a quarry, fracturing her pelvis, as she searched for a missing dog is suing a council for £200,000 of damages.

Debi Ballantine-Brown, 48, said she was left semi-conscious in the immediate aftermath of the fall at Edinburgh beauty spot ­Corstophine Hill and had to be brought to safety by a mountain rescue team.

The nursery nurse has launched an action against City of Edinburgh Council at the Court of Sesssion in the capital, claiming there was no notice of the hazard and a fence around it was poorly maintained.

The local authority denies the claim. It says she should have stayed on a path and taken more care.

In her action, Ms Ballantine-Brown said she was walking her dogs in October 2009 with a friend when she noticed one of her animals had disappeared while off its lead.

She says she called out the dog's name and retraced her steps back up the hill to try to find him. When she heard the dog whimpering she walked towards the sound.

Ms Ballantine-Brown claimed she was able to step over the remains of a dilapidated fence and walked on a few feet to a point where the ground started to slope downwards.

The area was wooded and ­overgrown and as a result the degree of the slope was not obvious, it is said. She heard her dog barking further down the slope and made her way towards the sound.

The claim further alleges: "The pursuer (Ms Ballantine-Brown) was unaware or could not reasonably have been aware that there was a hazard such as the disused quarry and a sheer drop of about 50 feet only a few feet from she was standing."

She lost her footing on wet leaves and fell into the quarry. She was wearing hill walking boots and was careful where she placed her feet as she moved down the slope, it is maintained.

Her friend had heard her scream as she fell and alerted emergency services, but she lay in the quarry for between two and three hours before she was rescued.

The claim states she was ­drifting in and out of consciousness as she lay at the bottom of the quarry and had to be lifted out by mountain rescue personnel

Ms Ballantine-Brown, of ­Edinburgh, was taken to the city's Royal Infirmary following the ­incident which left her with a ­fractured pelvis and other injuries.

In her £200,000 action, Ms Ballantine-Brown said in her case that she did not regularly walk at the spot and was unfamiliar with its topography.

It is maintained that there was no notice warning of the hazard and that if the fence had been in a proper state of repair she would not have scaled it.

"Shortly after the accident this section of fencing was replaced with new fence posts and wires," it is said.

City of Edinburgh Council is contesting the action and ­maintained it did not breach any duties placed on it.

It said she should have stayed on the path and taken care where she placed her feet.

It also maintains that if the ­accident occurred as had been set out by the dog walker and it was to any extent caused or contributed to by its fault or breach of statutory duty, which it denies, any award of damages should be reduced by contributory negligence.

The case is due to go to a civil jury trial later this year, but it called before Lord Brailsford at the court as the local authority sought to amend its case.

Edinburgh City Council maintains that there is no duty to warn of natural or obvious danger such as the slope and that she willingly accepted the risk posed by it.

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Local government

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