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Law Bulletin - December 2005

Work equipment? The workplace? Strict liability? [Liability]

The claimant was a caretaker at a primary school whose duties included cleaning the toilets in the nursery block. On this occasion, she found some toilet paper in the toilet bowl and decided to flush the toilet to clear it. She pressed the toilet handle and it snapped. The sharp edge penetrated the claimant’s hand.

Thompsons’ Workplace slipping case upheld [Liability]

A firefighter slipped when doing physical training in the fire appliance room. Two other firefighters noticed a fine coating of dust on the floor. It was alleged breaches of Reg’12 (3) of the Workplace Regs and Reg 5(1) applied.

RSI from Massage [Liability]

This was a highly publicised case. Virgin Atlantic employed the claimants to do a "Shiatsu” or pressure-point massage service for customers. Both K and R carried out around ten 15-minute massages per shift and had to hold wrist-extended positions. The technique required hard pressure with the heel of the hand. Customers commonly had suits on so deep manipulation was required with fingers and thumbs.

Highway tripping and inspections [Liability]

The claimant tripped over an allegedly raised and rocking paving slab on the High Street, Birmingham City Centre in September 2003 and fell suffering a fractured ankle.

CICA Cases/Harassment/Six-Year Limitation [Liability]

The claimant successfully applied for judicial review of a decision of the defendant panel to refuse to award him damages for criminal injuries. M had been kidnapped and assaulted by his wife and others.

A Judge has to give reasons [Practice and Procedure]

A refuse collector was hit by a bin as it was being lowered; he had overridden the automatic operation of the hoist, in order to raise it, and then walked behind the cart, but the automatic operation had unexpectedly cut and he was hit by the bin. The Judge held that the claimant’s account was truthful and that it was supported by the evidence of the joint expert. The employers argued that the Judge had failed to give any adequate reasons for the conclusion that the account was truthful, and failed to deal with the evidence of two witnesses, which was entirely inconsistent to the claimant’s account.

Is this a record? [Practice and Procedure]

We received instructions on 8 November 2005, spoke to the client and sent out a letter of claim on the same day. The client had suffered minor whiplash injuries. The insurers put forward an offer of £1450 on 23 November. After discussing the matter with the client on the same day he decided to accept it. Two weeks from start to finish.

Smoking too much? Drinking too much? [Damages]

This has now received its First Reading. The Bill proposes to give public bodies, such as schools and voluntary organisations, liability protection in the event of an accident. The Bill is supposed to stagnate the alleged “compensation culture”.