Litigation Personal Injury 12/4/99

Keith Diaper v Safeway Stores Plc (1999) QBD (HH Judge Walker QC) 15 March

Plaintiff: Male, 51 years old at date of accident; 53 years old at date of trial.

Incident: The plaintiff worked for Safeway as a warehouse operative. On 4 August 1997, a forklift truck, allegedly being negligently driven, ran over his right foot. The truck operated on a crab-like mechanism with the driver sitting at a right angle with an impaired view of pedestrians. The plaintiff claimed Safeway was vicariously liable for the negligent acts of its employees and was in breach of its health and safety obligations. The judge found the defendant was 75 per cent liable in not taking appropriate steps against "the obvious dangers inherent in the system adopted in the warehouse". He found that the driver's conduct fell below the standard of a reasonably prudent forklift truck driver. He also held the plaintiff to be 25 per cent liable as he walked directly into the truck's path.

Injuries: The plaintiff's right foot was crushed, needing two toes amputated. He had difficulty walking, sometimes needing a crutch. He had not returned to work, although medical evidence suggested he would be able to, but with different duties and a lower income. The accident followed other difficulties in his personal life and he suffered a depressive illness. He had been drinking heavily before, but his intake increased.

Award: u81,802 total damages.

Plaintiff's solicitor: Khilkoff-Boulding & Co (Chatham)

Plaintiff's counsel: Nicholas Vineall

Janet Hughes v Chichester Priority NHS Trust (1999) QBD (Diana Cotton QC) 16 March

Plaintiff: Female, 31 years old at date of accident; 36 years old at date of trial.

Incident: The plaintiff worked as a nurse at the Bognor Regis War Memorial Hospital. During the night shift on 3 June 1994 staff noticed a puddle on the ward floor and called a cleaner. The plaintiff, who was with a patient, was advised to be cautious. However, as she walked away she slipped on the puddle, landing heavily on her ankle. The plaintiff alleged the defendant was negligent in not operating a safe system of work. She claimed an oral warning was insufficient and a warning cone should have been placed near the hazard. The judge ruled that if a warning cone was kept with cleaning equipment it could have been placed when the spillage was first noticed. The judge held the defendant was 50 per cent liable. The plaintiff was also negligent in "failing to take necessary care".

Injuries: The plaintiff sustained a severe fracture to her right ankle, spending seven weeks in plaster, with mobility severely restricted. In the long term she suffered pain and discomfort and her ankle was significantly weakened. Prior to the accident she enjoyed skiing and ballet dancing but was now unable to do these activities to her prior level.

Award: u6,750 total damages.

Plaintiff's solicitor: Thompsons

Plaintiff's counsel: Stephen Killalea

Alan Howard v Powergen Plc (1999) Derby CC (HH Judge Stretton) 23 March

Plaintiff: Male, married, 43 years old at date of accident; 48 years old at date of trial.

Incident: The plaintiff worked for the defendant as a mechanical digger operator. On 25 June 1994 the plaintiff was reversing the digger over a drain. The drain collapsed, causing the digger to drop three feet and the plaintiff to jar his back.

Injuries: The plaintiff was later diagnosed with a disc prolapse. He suffered constant pain, unable to do any heavy lifting. Medical evidence found he had irritated a pre-existing condition and the symptoms would have arisen in any event within four years. His condition had settled by the date of trial and was unlikely to deteriorate further.

Award: u15,750 total damages.

Plaintiff's solicitor: Alfred Sevier & Sons (Derby)

Plaintiff's counsel: Andrew Prestwich

Cases from Lawtel's PI Quantum Database. Contact Deborah Talbot on 0171 970 4800.