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Law Bulletin - April 2006

Occupiers’ liability for equipment [Liability]

The claimant was injured in an accident at a leisure centre while on an uphill climbing machine – the resistance of the machine gave in causing the claimant to fall backwards. The claim was brought against the leisure centre and also the seller and maintenance provider of the equipment.

More stress case decisions [Liability]

Another claimant came to grief in the Court of Appeal recently. She had been a sales manager, selling houses on new build sites, until her resignation. She alleged that, during the year prior to her resignation, she had been required to work excessive hours without breaks or proper support, had been subjected to bullying by the area manager, had been forced to lie about the lack of interest in certain properties, and had taken no summer holiday.

Liability for assaults on employees [Liability]

In the first Dobbs J dealt with a claim against a local authority for damages arising out of two incidents at the claimant’s place of work. She was employed as an assistant head teacher at a special school catering for pupils with severe learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorder. The two incidents involved a pupil who suffered from global development delay with challenging and emotionally disturbed behaviour.

Court of Appeal upholds claimant’s RSI claim [Liability]

The claimant was a secretary for nine years with a firm of solicitors. From about 1989 she suffered intermittent pain in her wrists and it was from about then onwards that she slowly developed a build up of pain in her hands, mostly in the morning, and that caused some difficulty typing.

Door closer [Liability]

In the first the claimant was repairing a door closer on the platform of an oilrig when the arm of the closer struck him in the face. He sued his employers and also Talisman Energy who owned the oil platform. The action against the employers was dismissed but the case was allowed to continue against Talisman Energy.

Defeat on contributory negligence [Thompsons’ cases]

A meat inspector appealed against a finding that he was 40 per cent contributorily negligent. He was inspecting an abattoir owned by the first defendant during the height of the foot and mouth epidemic. He stepped into a plastic tray containing some disinfectant placed between the doorways to prevent the spread of infection. The tray slipped and he fell suffering injuries.

Some personal protective equipment decisions [Thompsons’ cases]

A mason/pavier was instructed to form a concrete driveway. He prepared the driveway and filled it in with concrete and then had to kneel on the concrete using a float to flatten it. He suffered from chemical burns to both knees. He had served his time as a ground worker trained on bitumen and tarmac and had only been working on mason jobs for about 10 months.

Changes to CPR [Practice and Procedure]

From 6 April 2006 there are a number of important changes to CPR. In particular, the postcode for any address must be given. If, when you submit a claim to the court, the claim form does not have a postcode, you will need to ask the Judge for permission to serve your claim without it.

Loss of chance: New evidence admissible [Practice and Procedure]

The claimant, a vet, was injured in an RTA in 1982. In 1996 the action was struck out for want of prosecution even though liability had been admitted. In 2002 the claimant commenced proceedings against his former solicitors who admitted liability. In 1983 it had been discovered that, in addition to more obvious injuries, the claimant had suffered what was for many years thought to have been a false traumatic aneurysm.

Two important limitation decisions [Practice and Procedure]

It is rare indeed for there to be two important decisions on limitation, one from the Court of Appeal and one from the House of Lords, within days of each other.

Trial Judge’s conclusions upheld [Damages]

The claimant injured her neck and back when a car in which she was the front seat passengerwas struck by the defendant. She was admitted to hospital and subsequently had physiotherapy for neck and back pain. Before the accident she had medical treatment for sciatica.

Mitigation [Damages]

We recently held an award against an appeal to the Court of Appeal by defendants who said that the amount of damages awarded to an employee who had worked for them for 35 years and who had developed asthma as a result of exposure to fumes was too high.