A woman who claims she was violently attacked by a seagull is suing the owners of the building and seeking damages in Edinburgh, Scotland. Cathie Kelley, 59, was taking her lunch break when she wandered outside and was accosted by a seagull on the steps of the building.
Kelley, a Project Officer for a company called CVS Inverclyde, had stepped out for lunch on June 17, 2010, to a nearby food truck. She noted it was impossible to see out of the building’s stained glass windows. Kelley allegedly walked out the door and started down the steps when a seagull swooped down at her, “coming right for my face.”
Kelley noted that at the time she was in possession of no food that might have caused the seagull attack. The bird began to squawk and continuously swoop at Kelley and was “screaming at me. I was terrified. I thought it was going for my face,” she recounts. As soon as she realized that she would not make it to the food truck, she made her way back into the building. “I was shouting but it would not go away,” she said.
In court, Kelley claimed that she crouched when the seagull attack began, and tried to step backward up into the building. It was then that she fell onto the steps, causing injury and telling the court she was “in instant pain.” She made her way back into the building very winded and noted to the court that she had been wearing flat loafers. After the seagull attack, she had not yet considered suing, until she realized the pain she was in.
She returned to her office. but was encouraged to leave early when a coworker spotted her crying at her desk due to the seagull attack. Later, her daughter took her to see a doctor and she was out of work for two weeks. When she finally returned, she took to carrying an umbrella to protect herself from any dive-bombing birds.
Kelley said that birds had been nesting in two nearby towers outside of the building where she worked, and that after discussions with coworkers, she learned that a chick had fallen from a nest outside the office the day of the altercation. Her lawyer alleges that colonies of urban gulls were widely known to populate the area, and the animals are known to be highly territorial.
While she made her return to work, she was still in pain. She found difficulty sitting at her computer desk with pain in her chest and legs, and had to seek assistance from family members in completing simple chores such as grocery shopping and cooking. She remained on painkillers for weeks after the attack.
Ann Walsh, who also works in the same building, admits that the gull problem has continued for years, and that she suffered a similar fate. “I was poo-ed on as part of the attack,” said Walsh, noting that “you shouldn’t have to be dodging seagulls when you come in to work in the morning.”
The owners of the building, Riverside Inverclyde Property Holdings, deny responsibility. They have claimed that Kelley should have taken better care of where she was placing her feet on the steps prior to falling. Kelly is suing due to the seagull attack for 30,000 pounds from the company for damages and distress.
By Nathan Rohenkohl